Talking about a Generation Report

Talking About a Generation - a review into current policy, evidence and practice for speech, language and communication

Talking About a Generation, a new report from The Communication Trust, explores the development of speech, language and communication skills in children and young people, and especially those who struggle to communicate.

It reviews recent developments in policy and practice affecting these children and young people, examining the impact of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) on health and wellbeing, educational progress and employability beyond school. It presents case studies from around the country that show solutions to some of the challenges identified.

Talking About a Generation highlights research showing that by the age of five, 75% of children who experienced poverty persistently throughout the early years are below average in language development, compared to 35% of children who never experienced poverty. Up to 50% of children starting school in the most disadvantaged areas will have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). In school-aged children the likelihood of being identified as having SLCN is 2.3 times greater for children eligible for free school meals and living in areas of disadvantage.

There is worrying evidence of under identification of SLCN across health and education services. Research tells us that 7.6% of children in the early primary years will have developmental language disorder – that is two children in every classroom. Analysis of the SEND data shows that only 2.6% of children are identified by the SEND system.

The Communication Trust is calling for concerted action around identification of, and support for, speech, language and communication needs with 19 recommendations for government, commissioners, regulators and practitioners:

  • As a matter of urgency, the government should consult on a new plan for the future of children’s centres which puts speech, language and communication at its heart.
  • Local areas (when developing their Education, Health and Care needs assessments) should compare the incidence of SLCN in schools with prevalence figures, and develop plans to tackle under identification – schools should similarly make these comparisons.
  • The government should include mandatory elements on developing all children and young people’s speech, language and communication skills in ITT (Initial Teacher Training).

Those working in the speech, language and communication sector - whether in commissioning, leading or delivering services – are also being urged to review the 13 case studies within Talking About a Generation and apply good practice in their local area.

View full report



Talking About a Generation Presentations

Listen to presentation

Although our Parliamentary launch for the event was unfortunately cancelled, our speakers from the event have kindly agreed to record their events in audio and video format.

You can listen to the presentation by Sarah Lambert on Blackpool Better Start here.

Watch the presentation

You can watch the presentation by Stephen Parsons on the Hackney Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service below:


A Generation Adrift

A Generation Adrift, a report developed in 2013, draws together research which shows that many children and young people aren't being adequately supported to develop good communication skills and children with speech language and communication needs (SLCN) are often misunderstood, misinterpreted or missed altogether.

The paper includes current research from the Better Communication Research Programme and also highlights the high numbers of children living in poverty who have SLCN and that one-third of children aren't confident speech, language and communication when they reach five-years-old.

A Generation Adrift Report


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