'Urgent action' needed on therapy provision

Lots of hand-drawn arrows pointing to the middle, where there are two logos, and the text 'Getting it right for communication'

25th July 2022

Six things need to be done to improve provision for children and young people, say two speech & language therapy bodies in their response to a Government review.

The Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) and the Association for Speech & Language Therapists in Private Practice (ASLTIP) have issued a stark joint response to a Green Paper from the Department for Education.

The Green Paper, released earlier this year, reviewed the current provision for children with special, educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in the UK. In it, author Will Quince MP said it recognised that the current SEND system is not delivering for children and their families, but that the Government is "determined to deliver real, lasting change". 

Now is the time finally to get it right for communication.

In its statement 'Getting it right for communication — right support, right place, right time', released today, RCSLT/ASLTIP welcomed this recognition. But it criticised the review's scale and ambition as being 'nothing like sufficient'. Overall, the statement paints a dire picture of the current state of therapy provision, with staff shortages and burnout, underfunding and a lack of wider professional training being the main issues. 

Do these 6 things now

With communication needs being the most common type of primary need, representing almost a quarter (23%) of all children and young people with SEND, the statement urges the government to work with them and its charity partners in these six key areas:

1.    Funding 
More money is needed for speech & language therapy services, both locally and nationally, to meet demand.

2.    Workforce 
More speech & language therapists need to be trained and supported to work with children and young people. 

3.    Commissioning 
Joint commissioning must be improved and where it is not happening local areas must be held to account. The Government must set out how it proposes to do this.

4.    Early intervention 
The Government must make sure that support is given at the right time to prevent problems getting worse. 

5.    Accountability 
The Government must ensure that there is accountability when speech & language therapy is not available for those who need it. 

6.    Professional development & training 
The Government must make sure that teachers and social care staff have the knowledge and skills to understand how to support children and young people with SEND. 

It also calls on the Government to provide more detail on its proposals, implement reforms in a joined up way, and to listen more closely to children, young people, parents, guardians and speech & language therapists.

If these things aren't addressed, the statement argues, 'we will fail many children and young people with SEND'. This could lead to a negative impact on their wellbeing and mental health, health outcomes, education, home and family life, social life and friendships, employment prospects, life chances and the risks of them becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

Stammering is just one aspect of SEND, but STAMMA actively contributed to the response to the Government, and are cited alongside quotes from speech & language therapists and parents.

Read the full statement 'Getting it right for communication — right support, right place, right time' at the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapist's website.