10 years ago, the idea for The Link magazine was conceived. Its aim? To provide the SENCo of every UK primary school with clear, accessible information on supporting SLCN (speech, language and communication needs) in the classroom.

Derry Patterson, lead speech and language therapist for Speech and Language Link, noted in the foreword of the first issue of The Link in 2013: “It seems today, that we are constantly expected to provide more for less. All public services are being asked to use innovation to provide first class services with reduced budget”.

So, what has changed in the last ten years? Many readers may consider that the challenges have become even greater and the obstacles more difficult to overcome. And yet school staff continue to astound us by adapting with resilience and innovation – two potent and effective antidotes to managing complex changes and challenges. All of this, during a decade of unprecedented events which will go into the history books of generations to follow.



The ‘Statement of Special Educational Needs’ is replaced by the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) to and speed up and streamline the process of identifying and supporting children with SEND in a timely way.

IN THE LINK: advice to engage parents and pupils with target setting: rb.gy/97zif



A widening body of research continues, looking into service provision and the impact of SLCN on emotional health, wellbeing, and future prospects (Gascoigne et al, 2015; Law et al, 2017, Hollo et al, 2014; Norbury, 2016, SEND Code of Practice 2015).

IN THE LINK: summary of the recent ‘Funding for Disadvantaged Pupils’ Report: rb.gy/axdqo



‘Developmental Language Disorder’ replaces the previous diagnosis of ‘Specific Language Impairment’ or ‘Language Disorder’ to increase recognition, understanding and access to services

IN THE LINK: the first of many articles aimed at informing and supporting schools about DLD. bitly.ws/CSDi



John Bercow’s follow up of services and identification of speech, language and communication needs finds that, despite wider recognition and awareness of SLCN, little has changed in terms of services and support available, and a greater level of resource is still needed.

IN THE LINK: school staff are sign posted to practical support materials following the report. bitly.ws/CSCn



The pandemic brings about sudden changes in our freedoms as well as children’s education forcing us to quickly find innovative ways of working. Overnight, teaching staff become technological gurus, emotional supporters and crucial carers.

IN THE LINK: Schools are offered a free summer subscription of Infant Language Link.

50,000 assessments of Infant Language Link, autumn 2020 showed an increase of 20%+ in the number of Yr R pupils starting school with the lowest levels of language.



The impact of COVID-19 on wellbeing, support and educational attainment becomes more apparent. Once again, schools step up to bridge the attainment gap for children with SLCN.

IN THE LINK: schools get free summer access to the Junior Language Link support package and Speech and Language Link launch their new SLCN training modules for support staff – The Link CPD. speechandlanguage.info/cpd

The Link magazine wins a highly commended award 2022 in the Teach Primary Awards.



Transformational reforms are introduced regarding EHCPs and the provisions for mainstream schools supporting children with SEND.

Speech and Language Link partners with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Sheffield Hallam University to deliver a national study investigating the impact of using Infant Language Link across year 1. speechandlanguage.info/study

The road has certainly not been a simple one to navigate. Strains on public services have brought about many shifts in the way that SLCN is supported. Health care services have been stretched to capacity and have had to make difficult decisions regarding service levels. The education sector has become a more prominent part of the support offered and taking on additional responsibilities for identification and intervention of this group of children and young people. This paradigm shift has resulted in a higher level of awareness of SLCN within schools, as teaching staff look at the ways in which they can most ably support these pupils to achieve their potential.

So, ten years on, what have we gained?

Despite the twists and turns that have made working with children and young people so challenging over the past 10 years, we are all still here – with a passion to make a difference, and with creativity, innovation and dedication in abundance!

Share this article

Please login to view this content