Our response to | Press

Speech and Language UK responds to General Election win

July 5, 2024

Congratulations on your victory. As you look ahead to the next five years, you need to make speech, language and communication skills a top priority. 1.9 million children in the UK are currently struggling with talking and understanding words, and they urgently need your help. 

You are the first party to talk about the importance of early communication skills in your election manifesto and we are delighted to see your pledge to fund a language intervention in every school. We look forward to working closely with you to implement this policy.  

A language intervention in every school is a great first step, but will not be enough on its own. The previous Government paid for language interventions as part of their Covid recovery programme, and in the four years it has been available the number of children with speech and language challenges has risen from 1.5 to 1.9 million.  

The scale of the challenge means these interventions need to be coupled with better training and tools for teachers and staff so that they can help all children to progress, rather than relying purely on group interventions which only ever reach a minority. We say this as the provider of a very successful intervention; they cannot be a substitute for a skilled workforce who can support all children in their development. You will also need more specialist support for those children with lifelong speech and language challenges. 

If you’re serious about helping children struggling with talking and understanding words, here are five things that you must deliver: 

  1. Schools need to be able to measure and track children’s talking and understanding of words in the same way they do literacy and numeracy. We need a free tool that can be used at the start of KS1 and KS2 by class teachers so that they can spot when children are struggling. 
  2. Fund an ambitious campaign so families have the information they need so they know how babies and children learn to talk and understand words. 
  3. Continue professional development opportunities for the early years workforce.
  4. Commit to training everyone who works with children to spot those who are struggling with their speech, language and communication skills, and provide them with the support the need. 
  5. Make specialist support quicker and easier to get for children with lifelong challenges 

Again, congratulations on your victory. We look forward to working with you to improve the lives of the 1.9 million children and their families.