Our policy campaigns
Learn about how we are changing young lives through our policy campaigns
Influencing government policy
We’re committed to raising awareness among politicians and other decision makers about the challenges faced by children who struggle with talking and understanding words. With 1.9 million children in the UK facing speech and language challenges, we need all political parties to understand what needs to change. We shout about gaps in existing policies, to influence policy decisions and drive real change.
Early years and childcare
Early years and childcare need to be seen as a fundamental part of a child’s development, not just a safe place for children to go while parents return to work. We are putting pressure on the Government and members of Parliament to ensure that parents are properly supported and empowered, and the early years workforce has the skills necessary to help children struggling with talking and understanding words.
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan
The government published its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Alternative Provision (SEND AP) Improvement Plan in March 2023. There was much that was promising in the plan. The government will be publishing several ‘practice standards’ for frontline professionals, one of which will be about speech and language. We are working with DfE to ensure that the correct guidance is included in these new standards. The government are trailing the Early Language and Support For Every Child (ELSEC) to find new ways of working to better identify and support children with speech and language challenges in early years and primary schools. However, from the recommendations we made in our consultation response, there are some crucial things missing. There is no plan to create a tool for schools to spot which children have speech and language challenges. There is no mention of a national campaign to give information to parents about their children’s speech and language development. There is also no overall national strategy for speech and language. We will continue to put pressure on government deliver these important policies.
We’re a leading member of a group of over 120 charities, professional bodies, campaign groups, parents and carers organisations, trade unions and others, campaigning for better investment in the specialist workforce called #SENDintheSpecialists. Children need access to speech and language therapists and teachers with specialist knowledge, and without access to that support, we know many young people, including those with SEND, are being let down and left behind. Unable to obtain specialist support like therapies, classroom support, school nursing, and mental health interventions, many children and young people are suffering poorer physical and emotional wellbeing, worsening educational outcomes and a significant impact on their life chances. In the SEND AP Improvement plan, the government has promised to set up a taskforce to look at workforce planning. #SENDintheSpecialists will be a part of this taskforce and will working to improve access to the specialist workforce for the many children and young people who need support right now.
Speech and Language UK is recommending that the Government commissions the development of a measuring and tracking tool to enable Primary classroom teachers to track children’s progress with speech and language at each Key Stage. The tool would be similar in format to those available for teachers to track literacy and numeracy progress but would be freely available and anonymised data would be collected nationally. This would help national and local Government, Ofsted and other bodies to understand the prevalence of difficulties with speech and language, to plan the right provision of support and to evaluate the success of different interventions.
Speech and Language UK responds to DfE statistics released today on pupil attendance in schools between 11 September 2023 to 9 February 2024.
Government response to House of Lords Committee on 11-16 years education
By George Carr, Public Affairs Manager
Our response to Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education’s speech