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Speech and Language UK new strategy launch

September 20, 2023

Speech and Language UK launches new 5-year strategy to build ‘Confident young futures’


Following on from their recent Listening to unheard children report which found 1.9 million children are now behind with talking and understanding words, Speech and Language UK today launches its new 5year strategy: Confident young futures’.  

The strategy is the result of extensive engagement with over 700 families, supporters, teachers and professionals and sets out the charity’s ambitious aim to make speech and language central to more schools and nurseries, support even more families and put it on the political agenda. They want to make sure every child with speech and language challenges has the skills they need to face the future with confidence. 


To deliver its new 5year strategy, the charity today announces five key aims and areas to address:

AIM 1: Make speech and language central to more schools’ and nurseries’ everyday practice across the UK 

AIM 2: Make its two schools – Meath and Dawn House  leading examples for speech and language best practice 

AIM 3: Make sure all families know about speech and language development  

AIM 4: Make sure speech and language is at the forefront of the political agenda 

AIM 5: Make sure Speech and Language UK’s culture, infrastructure and funding model is fit for the future 


Jane Harris, Chief Executive of Speech and Language UK said: 

“1.9 million children are currently struggling with talking and understanding wordsthe highest number we’ve ever recorded. That’s why our new strategy is so ambitious. An unimaginable number of children are going through life unable to do things many of us take for granted. They are more likely to fail in key subjects at school, more likely to be lonely and have mental health problems, more likely to end up in the criminal justice system and more likely to be out of work as an adult Many people care about these social problems, but don’t recognise the massive link with speech and language challenges. Our new strategy reflects our commitment to changing that. 

Speech and Language UK is committed to working together with a wider group of people, and by telling the stories of families whose children have speech and language challenges to ensure that as a society we see and hear directly from those who are affected. The charity is committed to making the case over the next five years that tackling social problems like falling educational standards, rising mental health challenges and preventing youth offending is impossible without better speech and language support. 

How we want to address these key areas

  • Investing in our existing tools and training like Early Talk Boost, What Works and Early Talk 

  • Training teachers and early years staff to use positive speech and language practices every day

  • Launching an online speech and language learning platform  

  • Working with partners to create a new screening tool for schools to use

  • Improving the learning, mental health, and independence of our students 

  • Upgrading facilities to match our high-quality education and therapy standards 

  • Helping other schools by sharing successful approaches from our schools 

  • Maintaining the high quality of our education and residential services. 

  • Making our information easier to find and use, including for non-English speakers so that we can reach even more than the 30,000 families who use our website every month 

  • Collaborating with new publishers and content providers to reach more families 

  • Providing more advice for parents before the birth of their children. 

  • Advocating more powerfully for the impact of lack of support for speech and language challenges 

  • Sharing stories of affected families, showing the impact on children’s education and mental health 

  • Influencing policies through our expertise, parliamentary engagement, and media reach.  

  • Enhancing collaboration between our schools and other staff members 

  • Developing diversity and anti-racism initiatives and an independent governance review 

  • Improving technology and diversifying funding sources for long-term sustainability.  

Who are Speech and Language UK?

For at least 1.9 million children in the UK, learning to talk and understand words feels like an impossible hurdle. We work to give every child the skills they need to face the future with confidence We design innovative tools and training for thousands of nursery assistants and teachers to use in their classrooms We give families the confidence and skills to help their children. And we put pressure on politicians to prioritise help for speech and language challenges. 

We demand a country in which every child with challenges in talking and understanding words has the skills they need to face the future with confidence. Together we can achieve it.

Read our full strategy here.