What a week of focus on children and young people’s speech, language and communication skills!

Last week saw the publishing of an important report looking at the benefit of developing communication skills in schools for all children and young people.  It also co-incides with a feature from the BBC and the offer of support to schools through Speech and Language Link (the trading name of Speech Link Multimedia Ltd).

The all party parliamentary group (APPG) on Oracy published their Speak for Change report following an inquiry that lasted over 12 months and included five oral evidence sessions and over 130 written evidence submissions. Speech and Language Link’s written submissions was one of those that contributed to the APPG’s findings.

The Speak for Change report underlines the importance of spoken communication skills in:

  • improving academic outcomes;
  • underpinning literacy and vocabulary acquisition;
  • supporting wellbeing and confidence;
  • enabling young people to have access to employment and thrive in life beyond school and
  • developing citizenship and agency.

The report went on to specify the particular needs of children and young people growing up in disadvantage and poverty and those pupils with speech, language and communication needs.

The overall conclusion of the Speak for Change inquiry is that the pandemic has increased the imperative to act now.

The report states that ‘the Oracy APPG believes that there is an indisputable case for oracy as an integral aspect of education and that all children and young people should benefit from high-quality oracy education as a consistent and comprehensive entitlement of their education in school’.

To achieve this, the APPG calls for a shift in educational culture and values, policy and practice to:

  1. Raise the status and priority of oracy in education
  2. Set out shared expectations for oracy across schools
  3. Equip and empower teachers and schools to develop their students’ oracy skills – providing them with tools and resources they need to do this.

We very much welcome the emphasis of this report and are pleased to see its combination with the BBC’s focus on how Covid restrictions have impacted on children’s speech, language and communication skills. Both have sharpened attention on the need to ensure all children have access to support programmes in school to enable strong speech, language and communication skills.

At Speech and Language Link, we are proud to have been involved in both key pieces of research, providing evidence from 50 000 assessments carried out in some of the schools that use our packages right across the UK. Not only do these standardised assessments help to highlight the speech, language and communication needs of pupils in key year groups, but they relate directly to the Speech Link and Language Link intervention packages that the school has available to be delivered to children in groups or individually by school staff.

Forward-thinking schools have been part of the Speech Link and Language Link revolution since 2003, using one or more of the tried and tested intervention packages aimed at developing language skills (for infant, junior and secondary schools), as well as a package focused on supporting children’s speech sound difficulties, in particular.

In recognition of the urgent need in schools at this time especially, Speech and Language Link is offering a free summer subscription for schools to use the Infant Language Link intervention package, with its wide range of assessment, intervention and support resources until Friday 16th July 2021. To sign up for your free subscription go to www.LLfree.co.uk, enter this code 2021LLFRSS and some details about your school, and that’s it – you’ll have access for the summer term.

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