Speech and Language UK responds to DfE statistics released today on pupil attendance in schools between 11 September 2023 and 22 March 2024

April 4, 2024

“Despite improving attendance numbers across the board, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that the 1 in 5 children with speech and language challenges remain at an increased risk of not attending school. So far this academic year, overall absences are at 7.5%. This is an improvement on last year’s final number of 10.7% and we certainly hope that this trend continues. However, the absence rate remains higher for SEND children, and the improvement in attendance is smaller than for other children and young people.

If the DfE wants to help children struggling with talking and understanding words so they find it easier to attend school, all teachers need to have the right training to develop children’s speech, language and communication skills and spot those who may need additional support. We also need to prioritise early years programmes, so children aren’t starting school significantly behind with their speech and language and having to catch up.

Until the Government starts supporting the 1 in 5 children with speech and language challenges, it is likely that many will continue to disengage from school. The DfE must do more to make sure schools work for children and young people with speech and language challenges.”

Jane Harris, Chief Executive of Speech and Language UK

For media enquiries, contact Simon Walsh Speech and Language UK Press Manager via or call 07824 446989.

A report last year fromSpeech and Language UK found that at least 1.9 million childrenarenow estimatedtobe behind with talking and understanding words.