Time to talk
Shocking new figures from the charity Speech and Language UK indicate that at least 1.9 million primary and secondary aged children are behind with talking and understanding words. This equates to 1 in 5 school-aged children in the UK– the highest number ever recorded.
The YouGov commissioned survey, also found that:
80 per cent of teachers surveyed think children in their classroom are behind with their talking and/or understanding of words.
73 per cent of teachers surveyed think that children’s speech and language is not prioritised by the Government.
53 per cent of teachers surveyed don’t believe they have sufficient training to support pupils' speech and language in the classroom.
One teacher commented: ‘I'm seeing lots of children struggle with sentence construction/sounds/vocabulary. My experience is that this also impacts behaviour which in turn can impact the class. It's not just one or two children either. There is no funding for support and I firmly believe early intervention is what's needed on many levels.’
The charity is urging the Government and school leaders to:
Introduce a new tool for schools to track talking and understanding words at Key Stage 1 and 2 in the same way that every school tracks literacy and numeracy skills.
Train all teachers and early years practitioners to spot children struggling with talking and understanding words.
Produce guidance for schools about tools and programmes for children with speech and language challenges that schools can deliver without specialist support.
Fund a more ambitious campaign to give all new parents advice on speech and language development, in the same way they get information on feeding babies and vaccinations.
Push the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to develop the first-ever guidance on support for children with speech and language challenges in its 24 year history.
Visit www.speechandlanguage.org.uk or follow @SpeechAndLangUK.