Research Round Up – June 2019

13 June 2019

Research Round Up – June 2019

This round up of recent reports and studies focuses on vulnerable children; language and literacy; and Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

  1. Vulnerable children

Timpson Review Of school exclusion DfE (May 2019)

Edward Timpson’s review highlights the variation in exclusions practice. It mentions the high numbers of pupils with SEND who are excluded. The review makes 30 recommendations around leadership, training, creating incentives and through improved safeguards. The recommendation on training for school staff specifically mentions the need to look at underlying causes, including SLCN.

Who are they? Where are they? Children Locked up Children’s commissioner (April 2019)

The report gathers together all the data currently available about some of the most vulnerable children in England – those living in secure children’s homes, youth justice settings, mental health wards and other residential placements. At any one time, this is almost 1500 children in England. Little data is collected on these children’s needs, many of whom will have SLCN, meaning it isn’t always clear that they are getting the right help at the right time.

Juvenile Offenders with Co-occurring Language and Behavior Problems: Language Suggestions Danger, D. et al. (2019) Journal of Correctional Education vol 70 issue 1

This article looks at language/literacy activities which enhance social interaction and academic performance in young offenders. It also describes three approaches which educators working with offenders can use 1. catching students being good 2. thinking small and 3. encouraging learning momentum.

The communication needs of looked after children Adoption and Fostering (2018)

Looked after children are more vulnerable to SLCN for a variety of reasons: Risk factors include family history or socio-economic disadvantage, attachment difficulties and previous abuse, neglect and subsequent trauma. Notes in this journal provide a good description of the range of SLCN found in looked after children

Narrative language skills of maltreated children living in out of home care Snow, P. et al (2019) International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

Children’s ability to be able to say what has happened (narrative skills) is central to the prosecution of perpetrators of alleged maltreatment. 42% of the 83 5-12 year old children assessed in this study scored in the below-average range in their narrative skills potentially disadvantaging them in their interface with the law. The article discusses implications for training for those involved in interviews.

  1. Language and Literacy

Closing the vocabulary gap in early years – engaging and involving parents and early years practitioners Education Scotland

This study focused on vocabulary teaching in nurseries where staff were trained in two approaches: reciprocal teaching and Word Aware. Words were introduced using story books. Staff really liked the structured approach and analysis showed an impact on words taught, on learning environments, and on words used in nursery.

Inference: why comprehension is not just about vocabulary and knowledge Professor Jane Oakhill – a TES podcast, and short written summary

Excerpts: “Some of the best instruction in comprehension I have seen is where teachers have encouraged lots of discussion, addressing specific questions in groups and then feeding back to the class. Lots and lots of talk. This is so important and it is very often missed out.” “A child having a broad vocabulary is key to comprehension, but it is an issue often tackled via the teaching of word lists. Doing this alone, does not work.”

Using strategic pauses during shared reading with preschoolers: Time for prediction is better than time for reflection when learning new words Read, K. et al (2019) First Language

This experimental study of 60 3- to 5-year-olds looked at the effects of pausing during story telling. It compared pausing  before target words to encourage predictions, pausing after target words to encourage reflection, or not pausing at all. Overall, dramatic silent pauses before new words in a story were found to best help children attend to and remember those new words.

Children’s reading difficulties, language, and reflections on the simple view of reading Nation, K. (2019) Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties

A useful overview of the Simple View of Reading which is based on 2 dimensions: word recognition and language comprehension. The model provides a framework for classifying reading difficulties, and has promoted understanding of the relationship between spoken language and reading. However, the article also points out its limitations. It camouflages the complexity of the relationship, and offers no solutions for intervention. The article offers an expanded visual for the model.


  1. Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

We Need to Talk: Access to Speech and Language Therapy, June 2019 a report from the office of the Children’s Commissioner

This report is based on a data request to CCGs and Local Authorities, asking them about how much they spend on speech and language therapy. The analysis shows a postcode lottery of provision, with huge variation across the country. Only half of areas sending in joint information despite a requirement for joint commissioning for children with SEND.

Assessment and diagnosis of Developmental Language Disorder: The experiences of speech and language therapists, Thomas, S., Schulz, J. and Ryder, N. (2019) Autism and Developmental Language Impairments

 A qualitative study analysing three focus groups of speech and language therapists exploring their experience in the assessment of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Three main themes emerge:  1. Barriers to early referral 2. Factors in assessment, tools etc. 3. Concerns over future support and related impacts. Support for early referral and improved assessment tools are needed together with greater public awareness of Developmental Language Disorder.

Fast mapping short and long words: Examining the influence of phonological short-term memory and receptive vocabulary in children with developmental language disorder Jackson, E et al (2019) Journal of Communication Disorders Vol 79

A study investigating word learning in 5 yr olds with DLD, looking at the effect of word length on nonword repetition and linking meaning with new words (fast mapping). Children with DLD had more difficulty repeating non words, particularly longer non words, and with fast mapping compared to their peers. The article discusses implications for targeting word learning in children.

Consequential differences in perspectives and practices concerning children with developmental language disorders: an integrative review Gallagher, A. et al (2019) International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

A review comparing education studies with speech and language therapy studies, looking at different perspectives on inter-professional collaboration (IPC) for children with DLD. Despite effective IPC being essential to meet the needs of children with DLD in school, it remains difficult to achieve. They found a lack of shared understanding about DLD. If these differences are also evident in practice, a different conceptual model is needed to support IPC.

Improving storytelling and vocabulary in secondary school students with language disorder: a randomized controlled trial Joffe, V. et al (2019) International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

This study evaluated two programmes delivered in secondary schools by trained teaching assistants. One for vocabulary and one for narrative skills. It found significant improvements in narrative as measured by standardised assessments, but not vocabulary. However, when bespoke, non-standardised measures were used there were differential effects for both narrative and vocabulary. 


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