Research Round Up – September 2019

30 September 2019

Research Round Up – September 2019

Several major reports and studies have been published since June. This quarter’s roundup features research on speech and language therapy provision, childhood wellbeing, Developmental Language Disorder and literacy.

Major reports

  1. We Need to Talk: access to speech and language therapy, Children’s Commissioner (July 2019)

A report based on information from funders of services in local areas across England, asking them about spend on support for children’s speech and language. Main findings:

  • Spending on children with SLCN varied hugely with the top 25% of areas spending £291.65 per child with SLCN, while the bottom 25% spent £30.94
  • In real terms 57% of areas saw a reduction in spend, only 23% areas saw an increase.
  • Only half of areas jointly commission their services.
  • Analysis showed that highest need does not have highest spend: a postcode lottery
  1. Understanding child and adolescent well-being: a system map, Department for Education (June 2019)

A report on the factors that influence children and young people’s wellbeing from the perspective of practitioners, shown as ‘systems maps’: visual representations of the main contributing factors:

  • The nature of the overall educational and school environment.
  • The development of a range of appropriate intrapersonal and interpersonal skills – here there is recognition of the contribution of language, communication and relationship
  • A stable and safe family environment.
  1. Vulnerability report, Children’s Commissioner (July 2019)

An annual study of childhood vulnerability in England, based on scrutiny of statistics and widespread consultation with CYP and with the people who support them. Over 2 million children in England live in families with substantial complex needs, and of these 1.6 million children have no established, recognised form of additional support. There’s a useful version of the report in numbers. Children with SLCN are considered a vulnerable group in their own right.

  1. Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools Guidance Report, Education Endowment Fund, (July 2019)

This guidance supports secondary schools to improve literacy in all subject areas. Two of the seven recommendations relate specifically to the importance of spoken language: Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject, and Provide opportunities for structured talk. Alongside this, EEF have produced practical tools to support schools: Secondary Literacy RAG Self-assessment, Secondary Literacy Vignettes designed to be used in INSET, The Simple View of Reading,   Vocabulary of Key Literacy Terms .

  1. Ofsted annual teacher survey (August 2019)

A survey of 1,007 teachers; 397 from primary, 610 from secondary. Overall opinion of Ofsted has fallen since last year. In 2018 35% considered Ofsted as reliable and trusted, this year only 18%. Also:

  • 41% of teachers feel their school places a greater emphasis on getting good results than the content of the learning.
  • 70% of primary teachers say their school has a strategy for improving/teaching reading.
  • Only a quarter of teachers feel most/all teachers at their schools are equipped to teach phonics to all children.
  1. The Good Childhood Report, Children’s Society (2019)

Children are the unhappiest they have been for almost 25 years, with a significant decrease in how happy children are with their friends, and with school – this is based on new data from the Children’s Society well-being survey: their annual Good Childhood report.

A sample of studies published over the last few months:

  1. Children’s development of semantic verbal fluency during summer vacation versus during formal schooling Rosqvist et al (2019), Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology

This study looked at children’s language skills before and after the school summer holiday. 7 year old children’s ‘semantic verbal fluency’ was assessed: a child is asked to name as many words as possible within a specified category (such as Animals, Food or Clothes), giving insight into how children store words, and into word-finding difficulties. The study found that a lengthy summer vacation causes a reduction in language skills, which is reversed after a term of school.

  1. An exploratory study of verbal interaction between children with different profiles of DLD and their classroom teachers in educational dialogues, Bruce and Hansson (2019), Child Language Teaching and Therapy

This study looked at the way teachers talk with children with DLD. It compared structured and informal school situations, and children with comprehension difficulties and expressive difficulties. Teachers talked more in both contexts. Children with comprehension difficulties functioned better with more structure, those with expressive difficulties took more advantage of the opportunities in informal situations.

  1. You have the right to remain silent: The ability of adolescents with developmental language disorder to understand their legal rights, Lieser et al (2019), Journal of Communication Disorders

This study looked at adolescents with DLD and their ability to understand ‘Miranda Rights’: You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Adolescents with DLD were 7 times more likely to be at risk of failing to sufficiently understand the Miranda warnings than their typically developing peers.

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

This article looks at the two variables of the simple view of reading: decoding and language comprehension, exploring strengths and limitations. Its wide-ranging discussion and review of evidence helps to guide our understanding of reading comprehension and its development.

  1. Parent-implemented language intervention delivered by therapy assistants for two-year-olds at risk of language difficulties: A case series, MacDonald et al (2019), Child Language Teaching and Therapy

A small-scale study exploring the feasibility and outcomes of a parent-implemented intervention for two-year-olds at risk of language difficulties – delivered by assistants. This targeted intervention is feasible, but showed no evidence of short-term impact for two-year-olds with expressive language delay and wider SLCN. However, it accelerated language development for some two-year-olds at risk of language difficulties and may help identify previously undetected SLCN in two-year-olds.

  1. Exploring participation and impairment-based outcomes for Target Word™: A parent-implemented intervention for preschoolers identified as late -to-talk, Cunningham et al (2019), Child Language Teaching and Therapy

This study evaluated Target Word™, The Hanen Programme® for Parents of Children who are Late Talkers. The programme appears to improve communicative function for late-to-talk preschoolers. Children also made gains in communicative participation skills, expressive vocabulary, and consonant inventory during the program.


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