Speech, language, and communication needs at primary level: Identification and intervention

As many as 4 in 10 pupils in your school could have unidentified speech, language, and communication needs. How can we intervene to spot the signs and put in place the right support for children?
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Official figures tell us that 1 in 10 children and young people are affected by long-term and persistent speech, language, and communication needs (Public Health England, 2020).

However, this could be the tip of the iceberg considering that research suggests as many as 40% of children and young people with SLCN are going unidentified – with significant implications for their academic and social-emotional outcomes (Communication Trust, 2014).

The Communication Trust also found that 45% of pupils who have difficulties with vocabulary and 52% who struggle with formulating sentences fly under the radar.

Other evidence, meanwhile, suggests that 8 in 10 children with emotional and behaviour disorders have unidentified language difficulties (Hollo et al, 2014), while among children presenting to mental health services, 64% of 7 to 14-year-olds referred to psychiatric services have SLCN and 40% of these were unidentified (ICAN & RCSLT, 2018).

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