What a great first day back from maternity leave. A meeting with the Minister to discuss the SEN Green Paper and the brilliant new research piece from Rousltone et al on unequivocal link between speech and language and achievement.
The Roulstone article opens with a summary of speech, language and communication / needs (SLC/N) in the policy world and as I read it I realised how very far we have come in the last five years. When starting as Director of Communications at I CAN I was struck by how little speech and language featured in policy. At best it was in an SEN ghetto and even there a poor relation. There were some wonderful advocates of speaking and listening within curriculum and early years but they were lone voices in an agenda dominated by reading and writing.
The work I started then built on efforts of many before and pushed forward an agenda of collaboration that has led the success we see now.
I wouldn’t quite say speech and language is the ubiquitous issue de jour but I’d argue that we have hit the target I set to place speaking and listening in the same ball park as childhood obesity. And, with much respect to my very dear colleagues in autism and dyslexia, we are closer to having specific language impairment and other SLC/N as recognised in policy and trade press terms as those equally important conditions – a challenge I took on at the launch of The Communication Trust at the Cinnamon Club.
Policy shift is one thing – and the increase in both quality and number of media mentions is another win – but key is what happens on the ground. Our work on raising awareness has undoubtedly contributed to investment in the frontline from Every Child a Talker (ECAT), the Bercow Review and the resulting Action Plan and our efforts mean that many new central initiatives support speech and language locally. I hear much from parents and professionals how the work of the Trust and our partners, the Communication Champion and Hello has helped them save and shape frontline services by providing a spotlight on SLC/N and supporting their local advocacy efforts.
But we are entering difficult times. We have won much ground but the task now is to keep moving forward when the easiest thing to do would be to fall back. So there are new challenges to set, old partners to pull closer and new ones to seek out. So here is to the first day back and to the first day of the next five years.
Please click here to view information about the Roulestone Research, this links to the Latest News section on the Hello website and is the article titled: Reading and talking to children at home makes starting school easier