Therapy could find lost children

7th January 2005 at 00:00
The education system is failing thousands of excluded children, says the Office for Standards in Education, so Government says ex-soldiers should deal with "the unruly". Can we get real, please?

Over 80 per cent of those excluded from school have special needs, according to the Audit Commission. Many have the "hidden disability" of speech and language impairment that causes disaffection, frustration and under-achievement.

What we need are more speech and language therapists because that is what people at the sharp end say. Sir David Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, quotes a governor of a young offenders' secure unit saying: "If I had to get rid of my staff, last out of the door would be the speech therapist because she's the one who can help these lads the most."

Communication is central to keeping children and young children and young adults in the learning process. With appropriate support many of Ofsted's 10,000 "lost children" would be found again if the system would produce the resources to engage them.

Linda Lascelles. Chief executive, AFASIC 50-52 Great Sutton Street London EC1

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