Letters extra: Speaking up for the one in ten

12th March 2004 at 00:00

As a director at I CAN, the charity that helps children with speech and language difficulties across the UK, I was particularly interested to read the chapter in the Government's new public consultation exercise, the Big Conversation, entitled "How do we give every child an excellent education".

As one of the leading charities in this area, we at I CAN strongly support educational provision which is "personal to the individual but fair to all, developing the talents of each young person to the full" and the need to ensure "that all children reach the age ofnbsp;five ready to learn".

I CAN would like to highlight the needs of the one in ten children who have speech, language and communication difficulties. Many children are not starting school with the skills they need for learning, putting them at risk of educational, emotional, behavioural and social difficulties.

We strongly promote the provision of training for all early years staff in speech and language development, the identification of difficulties and the strategies to support children who have these problems. We would also welcome specialist integrated teaching and speech and language therapy for those children with the most severe and complex difficulties.

Over the past three years I CAN has undertaken considerable work in both these areas, for example developing and launching:

A UK-wide network of Early Years Centres offering integrated pre-school therapy and education
An early years accreditation programme (funded by the DfES), which sets standards for high quality early years provision for children with speech and language difficulties

A project entitled "I CAN TALK!" (supported by Tesco Baby amp; Toddler Club), which provided 10,000 early years settings across the UK with a training pack to increase understanding of children's speech and language development and promote communication skills www.talkingpoint.org.uk which was developed in partnership by I CAN, The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and Afasic (supported by BT and Lloyds TSB Foundation) and is the 'first stop online' for professionals and parents looking for information about speech and language difficulties in children

We believe that integrated therapy and education should be available in every LEA, and, if you share the same views as I CAN, please log on to www.talkingpoint.org.uk where you can submit a letter to government. Help us put this subject high on the political agenda.

Alex Hall
Director of Policy and Practice
Londonnbsp; EC1


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