29 March 2022
The recognition in the Green Paper of the importance of improving workforce training and ensuring the education system is better at identifying and supporting needs is positive. If the Government is serious about getting this right, they must ensure that the reforms that follow this consultation equip every teacher with the right tools, skills and knowledge to identify and support children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), who form the biggest group of children with a special educational need or disability (SEND). A fact the government itself acknowledges in the Green Paper.
We know that outcomes for this group of children are poor - only 10% of pupils with speech, language and communication needs gained a 9-5 pass at GCSE in English & Maths in 2019, compared to 43% of pupils nationally. Early identification and intervention for these children must happen across all phases of education – as children move between nursery to reception, primary to secondary and beyond. If children with difficulties speaking and understanding language are properly identified and supported, some will not need ongoing SEND support.
We’ll be looking carefully at the proposals to ensure this but the commitment to more children and young people being able to access the support they need and national SEND standards shows that, in theory, the Government has begun to recognise the scale of the problem.
Specific action is also needed for children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) – a particular type of difficulty with speaking and understanding language. Children with DLD are often under-identified, and their needs are frequently often overlooked -two children in every average class of 30 in the UK who have DLD, yet half of these children are not being identified and are not getting access to the support they need. Reforms to the SEND system must include increased awareness and understanding of DLD, so that no child is left behind.
As such, we welcome the acknowledgement that data on the scale of need for therapy is limited and that there needs to be more effective workforce planning for those who need therapy. It’s also welcome that the future system will be using data from the therapy and diagnostic workforce. However, there are barriers to overcome in diagnosing DLD in the first place and we will be responding to the proposals in the Green Paper with this in mind.
Interim Chief Executive, I CAN
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