'Shocking' number of children with hidden language difficulties in primary school

16th January 2017 at 10:25
Study finds almost half of children with speech and language difficulties are unidentified in Year 1

An inquiry has been launched to investigate why almost half of children with speech and language difficulties are not being identified by schools.

The charity I CAN and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists said the inquiry was needed after a project from University College London earlier this year found that around two children in every Year 1 class (7.6 per cent) had language disorders that affected their schoolwork, but only 3 per cent of Year 1 children were identified.

The inquiry will be a follow-up to the Bercow review published in 2008, which emphasised how essential it was for speech and language difficulties to be picked up early.

'Good language skills are vital for learning'

Jean Gross, the former government communication champion for children, will chair the review. She said: "It’s shocking that almost 10 years after John Bercow’s report, so many children are not being identified in schools when good language and communication skills are so vital for learning."

She added: "We need to find out why. Is it because schools suspect there might be a problem, but struggle to get advice now that speech and language therapists and advisory teachers are thin on the ground? And what is happening to identify children before they start school?

"The Bercow: ten years on review will tell us, and help us understand what might need to change at both a local and national level to get children the help they need."

Those interested in the taking part in the review can make written submissions sharing their experiences. Evidence will be gathered from practitioners, parents and young people as well as experts in the field.

The final review is due to be published early in 2018.

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