On March 20th 2018, findings were published from an independent review into services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), 10 years on from the original Bercow Review and recommendations.

The aim of this review was to establish what changes, both positive and negative, have taken place or impacted the experiences of these children and young people and their families since the Bercow report recommendations were first made.

Despite some positive changes and examples of good practice at the local level, the main theme of the Bercow – 10 Years On findings is that there is still an over-whelming lack of understanding and resourcing of the needs of children and young people with SLCN. National policies are not prioritising SLCN – in fact it is rarely featured – which then impacts support at a local level. Decision-making around planning and funding of education and health services is often not ‘joined-up’. Families continue to get a variable service depending on the area in which they live – described in the report as a ‘post-code lottery’.

The impact of this dearth of support for some children and young people with SLCN is huge in terms of educational attainment, social, emotional and mental health, and longer-term life chances.

The review is structured around five major themes:

  • Communication is crucial, yet awareness of children and young people’s speech, language and communication is not sufficient.
  • Systemic change is needed – speech, language and communication must form a core part of national and local plans.
  • Services must be equitable. Currently there is far too much variation in the support children and young people receive for their SLCN.
  • Support must make a difference and be based on the evidence of what works.
  • Children and young people’s needs must be identified early and then supported appropriately.

Funding is always a challenge to services, but there are realistic changes possible. The review contains a full list of recommendations to address the issues identified and make positive changes to improve the situation for children and young people with SLCN. These recommendations will be reviewed annually to ensure another 10 years does not pass before changes are made. There are also a number of ‘calls to action’ which describe practical actions that any individual or organisation involved with SLCN can carry out to make a difference.

We’d love to hear about any initiatives you or your school carries out!

You can read the full report, recommendations and calls to action here: www.bercow10yearson.com

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