Sarah Wall introduces Language Link and explains how it can work alongside the new SEND Code of Practice.

From September 2014 the new SEND Code of Practice will be implemented throughout schools in England with some changes carrying over to the systems in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The new Code is based on a number of key principles including high aspiration, early identification, integrated assessment and excellent outcomes. Teachers will be more accountable for the progress of all pupils, including those supported by specialist staff. They will need to show how they identify and teach SEN pupils in their class as well as measuring outcomes of intervention.

The new code also places more emphasis on parents, families and the pupils themselves having more of a say in their support. Schools must seek and accurately record the views and opinions of parents/ carers and pupils about what sort of support they want.

How ready is your school to implement the new Code and what resources are available to help?

What is Language Link?

Language Link is an online service for schools to help them identify and support pupils with language difficulties. There are two primary packages, Infant Language Link for children aged 4-8 and Junior Language Link for children aged 7-11. Both packages provide a computer-based assessment of pupils’ understanding of language and tailored intervention programmes for pupils identified with difficulties.

How would my school use Language Link?

Early identification is a key principle of the new SEND Code of Practice. Understanding language underpins all learning and is crucial for literacy development, making it particularly important to identify problems early. Language Link is used as a universal screen in the first year of school and then to track individual pupils’ progress. The screening is computer based and carried out 1:1 with the child. It takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. The assessment results will signpost specialist intervention where required and make recommendations for in-school support.

What happens next?

Language Link is not just an assessment. It is a comprehensive intervention package providing recommendations for different levels of support. Each pupil has a profile which will recommend a combination of class based differentiation strategies and small group intervention. Outcomes of these interventions are recorded to provide evidence of improvement.

Class reports and provision maps are also part of the package. The website has lots of information too, such as strategies to support pupils with other communication needs (spoken language, social communication, speech), language development tables, home based activities for parents and information about developing English as an additional language.

How does Language Link work alongside the SEND Code of Practice reforms?

Language Link supports the key principles of the new SEND Code of Practice in providing a graduated whole school approach with:

  • Early identification through universal screening allowing the school to create provision maps.
  • Individualised pupil profiles ensuring all staff are aware of each pupil’s language needs and how to support them. Specialist support is signposted where appropriate.
  • Parental involvement with information and language activities for parents to use at home.
  • Differentiated classroom strategies to promote Inclusive Quality First Teaching.
  • Effective interventions with clear targets, tracking sheets and resources.
  • Repeat assessment to show evidence of in-school improvement.
  • Pupils’ and carers’ views are collected through specially designed surveys.

To find out more about Language Link and what it can offer your school, visit For more on the SEN Reforms, keep an eye on the Nasen website, at

Top Tip

Check out the action plan included in the Nasen document ‘Everybody Included: The SEND Code of Practice Explained’ to help with your school’s transition to the new Code of Practice. Available online.

Reception Teacher, Karen Rockall, Kent, said “…I really like the fact that we know exactly what the gaps are in children’s understanding and in their language development because often they can go under the radar. It gives us the power to know that we’re meeting the needs of all of our children.”

“It (Language Link) has helped me to identify children with SALT needs much earlier.” Reception Teacher, Stockport

Reception Baseline Assessment

From September 2016 the Government is introducing a new baseline test for all reception pupils across England. This test must focus on language literacy and numeracy skills and will provide a measure against which a pupil’s progress can be tracked to the end of Key Stage 2. Speech Link Multimedia Ltd is currently developing a baseline assessment to meet these requirements. We are looking for schools in England who would be interested in working with us. To find out how your school can get involved visit or email

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