The prevalence of speech, language and communication needs

Around 1.4 million children in the UK have long term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) that they won’t grow out of. That equates to around 10% of children or two or three in every classroom
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Around 1.4 million children in the UK have long term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) that they won’t grow out of. That equates to around 10% of children or two or three in every classroom

This 10% can be divided into three groups:

 

 

 

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Why is living in an area of social disadvantage a risk factor for children’s language? What are possible reasons?

Have a read of this factsheet from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy titled, “The links between speech, language and communication needs and social disadvantage” to find out more, or for a more in depth read, look at this report of the same name from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Speech and Language Difficulties.

Finally, these reports from The Communication Trust give more information on this topic:

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Language and disadvantage

There are close links between language development and areas of social disadvantage. Many children growing up in these areas have delayed language; their language is like that of a younger child, however with the right support they can develop and catch up. Deprivation does not predict delayed language but is strongly associated and so is a risk factor for children’s language development

  • As many as 50% of children in some areas of deprivation start school without the language they need for learning. 
  • In areas of social deprivation children and young people are more than twice as likely to have SLCN (this study found that 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 deprivation).

However, without support, these language difficulties can persist throughout schooling

  • Around half of primary school aged children in some areas of deprivation have delayed language
  • In one secondary school in an area of social deprivation, 83% of students had poor language

Children in the care system are at risk of having SLCN

  • Around 63% of children living in care have language difficulties and for the majority of those the difficulties were severe, pervasive and previously unidentified
  • Looked after children have poorer language skills on entry to school than those not looked after

This video clip from the Communication Trust starts with children explaining why they feel communication skills are important.

The impact of poor spoken language

Children with poor language skills struggle across many areas. The impact of having poor spoken language affects educational outcomes, social relationships, employability and places young people at risk of poor mental health and offending.

 

  • Want to find out more?

    • Analysis of Department for Education statistics has shown that more than half of children with language difficulties are not being identified by schools. Reasons why many children with language difficulties do not have their needs accurately identified are explored in this blog.
    • The Bercow: Ten Years On oral evidence session on  Mental Health, Looked After Children and Youth Offending summarises evidence of SLCN in these populations of young people and showcases best practice for support.
    • Schools and settings can calculate the number of children with SLCN in their area using the ‘Local Authority Interactive Tool’ (LAIT). This document contains information on this and the formula for calculating local prevalence.
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Why are children’s SLCN so often missed by schools?

Read this  blog post, written by Mary Hartshorne, I CAN Director of Impact.

For a more in depth read, have a look at the Bercow 10 years on report.

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