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Whole School SEND offer free access to Speech and Language specialists as record number of children fall behind

Online Units
Universal SEND Services

Whole School SEND and Speech and Language UK are teaming up to host a series of Specialist Spotlight discussion sessions this Autumn, aimed at improving the educational experience of children and young people with speech and language challenges.

The free-to-access sessions – which are funded by the Department for Education as part of the Universal SEND Services programme – come at a time when at least 1.9 million primary and secondary aged children are behind with talking and understanding words – the highest number on record, according to a recent report from Speech and Language UK (1).

During each hour-long session, participants will be offered an open, supportive and informal space in which to explore one of four speech and language themes:

  • An Introduction to Speech and Language Needs (SLCN)
  • Identifying and Supporting Speech and Language Needs
  • Creating a Learning Environment that Supports Speech, Language and Communication
  • Supporting the Development of Speech, Language and Communication Skills

Head of Whole School SEND, Amanda Wright says: “At a time when budgets are stretched and demands remain high, we hope that these fully-funded Specialist Spotlights provide a valuable opportunity to explore some of the most commonly observed barriers to learning in classrooms and other learning environments regardless of age, label or area of need.

“Participants will gain advice from speech and language specialists with a wealth of knowledge and understanding, as well as the chance to share experiences with school and college-based peers.

“Speech and Language UK’s recent report Listening to Unheard Children states that while 1 in 5 primary and secondary pupils currently face challenges in the development of speech, language and communication skills, 53% of their teachers don’t believe they have sufficient skills to support these needs in the classroom.

“I’d urge any practitioner who would like to enhance their skills to sign up for one of the sessions. We also offer a number of bite-sized online learning units linked to speech, language and communication. Each one takes just 20 minutes to complete, and provides practitioners – whatever their role or level of experience – with clear guidance on adaptations to help meet the needs of all learners.”

Specialist Spotlights and Online SEND CPD units are just two of the avenues of support available through the ambitious Universal SEND Services programme, which brings together support for SEND in schools with support for SEND across further education, with the ambition of improving preparation for adulthood from the earliest years in a seamless, joined up way.

For those with time to dedicate to more involved CPD, there is the option to join professional development groups, support with conducting preparation for adulthood reviews, access to peer mentoring support to school leaders, and much more. You can read about the full offer available, access our catalogue of resources, and find out how to contact your regional SEND leaders on our website:

(1) Speech and Language UK. (2023). Listening to Unheard Children.