The long-term impact of untreated SLCN on academic attainment and lifelong prospects is well established and huge numbers of children in the UK struggle to acquire oral language. Up to 50% of children in areas of social disadvantage start school with below average language skills, that are not adequate to support their next steps in learning. This has led to a significant attainment gap in our schools, which is likely only to have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This means that it is now more crucial than ever that schools have the skills to identify and support children with SLCN, making SLCN intervention an obvious choice for catch-up funding to boost pupils’ attainment this year. We have written this guide to help you choose the best SLCN package for your school.

Does the package identify which children have SLCN?

Language difficulties are known as a ‘hidden need’ because it is impossible to identify from observation alone that a child is having difficulty understanding. This has resulted in lots of children with SLCN not being identified and falling through the gaps. It is crucial that an intervention for SLCN contains an assessment to enable you to identify which children need support. The best assessments identify which children would benefit from targeted intervention in school and which need more specialist support in order to make progress, to enable schools to target resources more efficiently.

Infant Language Link provides a standardised assessment which, used universally in Year R/P1, identifies all children having difficulty understanding language and means that no children are left behind. The assessment identifies which children need targeted support in school and which children may need more specialist support, such as from speech and language therapy, allowing you to target precious school resources in the right places.

Does the package build SLCN knowledge and expertise throughout the school?

Many intervention packages are designed to train one person to deliver them, however this is not the most efficient way of supporting children with SLCN. These children are going to make the most progress within a communication friendly environment, where quality first teaching strategies are in place within the classroom. It is crucial that all staff have the knowledge and skills to support children with SLCN, so it is important to look at what an intervention package can provide for the whole school. Many children can be supported through the use of classroom strategies alone, without the need for more targeted intervention.

Infant Language Link is designed as a whole school package to build the SLCN knowledge and expertise of all staff. In-package training develops understanding of SLCN and the package includes a bank of strategies and resources that are easy for teaching staff to implement in the classroom. Universal support for children is emphasised as the first port of call for all children, with those that need further support then able to receive more targeted intervention. This ensures that pupils are supported to access learning in the classroom as much as possible.

Is there evidence that the package works and is it feasible to deliver in school?

It is important to review the evidence base for the intervention package, to ensure that you are buying something that is going to work. When reading research studies, it is important to note how much intervention was provided in the study and how much progress was made as a result. For example, if within the study children received daily intervention, this would be very difficult to achieve within a school timetable and, therefore, you would be unlikely to see as much progress.

A study completed in 2018-19 demonstrated that Infant Language Link is highly effective in boosting children’s language skills (see page 7 for details). The study found that children receiving Infant Language Link interventions made on average 5 months’ progress (in addition to expected progress due to maturation) with only 2 months’ progress made by control children. This progress was made through children receiving two 8-week language groups, where a 30 minutes session was completed weekly. The package outlines the best way to use the interventions to ensure that children make the most progress.

Does the package target specific areas of language for children, or is it a one-size fits all?

Language difficulties are very complex and affect different areas for different children. This means that no child with SLCN is the same as another. It is important that the intervention you choose allows you to target different areas of language depending on the difficulties each child has, making the most efficient use of time and resources. In addition, not all children require 1:1 intervention and many can be supported successfully in a group.

The Infant Language Link assessment identifies which specific areas of language children are having difficulty with and recommends specific language programmes based on this. This ensures that the intervention provided is directly targeting their needs. Session plans, resources and tracking sheets for measuring progress are included for all groups and more intensive 1:1 intervention is only recommended for those children that need it.

What happens after you have purchased the package?

Research shows that school staff can make a huge difference to children’s language skills with the right support in place, however as language skills are very complex, school staff will continue to need advice in providing the best support for these children. Find out whether your school will receive any ongoing support after purchasing an intervention. It is also important to find out whether updates will be made to the intervention, as if it is something that is provided in the form of a manual with photocopiable resources, this is likely to go out of date within a few years due to advances in research.

Infant Language Link is an online package with training, resources and support all built in. The colourful resources needed to carry out all of the intervention sessions are printed from the website, with no additional costs involved. Our Help Desk of friendly ex-school staff provide unlimited support by phone or email and, for more specific advice, staff can speak to our SaLT team. The website is updated as needed by our team of speech and language therapists to reflect changes in research practice and in response to school staff feedback.

A year’s subscription for Infant Language Link can be purchased for the equivalent of the catch-up funding provided for just 6 children. As a package that supports the whole school, this represents excellent value for money. Buy Language Link before 30th November and get Speech Link free for a year. This includes UNLIMITED access to our speech and language Help Desk and in-package training. T&Cs apply* Get a free 2 week trial at

*Offer applies to NEW packages only – offer will not apply for resubscriptions of Language Link

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