Best Practice

Speech, language, and communication needs: Identification and intervention

Many students will arrive in year 7 with unidentified speech, language, and communication needs – and the older they get the harder they are to identify. We speak to Louise Burton, a speech and language therapist, about how we can spot the signs and support young people.
Image: Adobe Stock

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 young people with SLCN are going unidentified – with significant implications for their academic and social-emotional outcomes (Communication Trust, 2014).

What is more, older students are among the hardest to spot, with particular problems identifying those with difficulties in understanding – an estimated 29% go unidentified at primary level compared to 48% in key stage 3.

The Communication Trust also found that 45% of students who have difficulties with vocabulary fly under the radar – as do 52% who struggle with formulating sentences.

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