Schools: Speech and Language Therapy

Department for Education written question – answered at on 22 April 2024.

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Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to increase access to speech and language therapists in schools.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department’s vision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), is the same as it is for all children and young people. The department wants them to achieve well in their early years, at school and in further education, to find employment, to lead happy and fulfilled lives and to experience choice and control.

The first response when any child is falling behind in school is good quality teaching. To support with this, the department is developing a suite of Practitioner standards, called ’Practice Guides‘ in the SEND and alternative provision Improvement Plan, which will set out the best available evidence to help professionals in mainstream settings, including early years staff, teachers and teaching assistants to identify and support the needs of children and young people they work with, including for those with speech and language needs.

In some cases, additional, specialist support may be required to meet the needs of a child, including support provided by speech and language therapists. The department is working with the Department of Health and Social Care to take a joint approach to SEND workforce planning. The department established a steering group in 2023 to oversee this work, which is intended to be completed by 2025. The government is also backing the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, which sets out the steps the NHS and its partners need to take over the next 15 years to meet the needs of the changing population. This includes increasing the number of allied health professionals such as speech and language therapists.

In addition, working with NHS England, the department is funding the Early Language and Support for Every Child pathfinders within the department’s Change Programme until 2025. The project will fund nine Integrated Care Boards and local areas within each of the nine Change Programme Partnerships to trial new ways of working to better identify and support children with SLCN in early years and primary school settings.

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