This week, Taunton Deane MP, Rebecca Pow held a Westminster Hall Debate on the importance of speech, language and communications support for our children.
Nationally, 10% of children have a speech disorder. Many arrive at nursery and primary school with a below expected standard of communication skill and this can have a serious impact on the future life chances of thousands of children.
Rebecca put the case that ensuring children are reaching the correct level of speech and language skill before starting their education is crucial.
Speaking in the debate, Rebecca said, ‘As a Nation we have yet to grasp the significance that not focussing fully on the importance of speech, language and communication has on the young generations - and therefore society as a whole. As a result hundreds or thousands of children and their families are suffering needlessly. By raising awareness of this issue, and providing simple guidance to parents and health and education professionals, we can make a real difference to the lives our children are able to live.’
Poor speech and language not only has an effect on children beginning their education, but also has a huge knock on effect to our society as a whole, with 60% of young offenders found to have unidentified problems, and adults with these difficulties being twice as likely to be unemployed.
Rebecca called on the Government to implement a strategy, with speech and language at its core stating, ‘with the welcome announcement of an additional £20bn for the NHS, (through prudent balancing of the books/control of the deficit,) and mental health being one of the priorities – here is the opportunity to make some of the essential links in the new long term strategy!’ Rebecca also called for advice for parents and increased training for nursery and primary school practitioners. Her meetings with a range of local nurseries and schools have highlighted the Problems they face when chickens arrive with below expected communication skills.
Taunton based ARROW tuition, an organisation working to improve the language development of children and young people through using the sound of our own voices, was also praised by Rebecca, highlighting the improvements made at The Taunton Academy.
Rebecca concluded her speech with a plea to Government, asking for the issue to be approached jointly by both the health and social care, and education sectors, commenting, ‘if there are things out that can help, then we can’t afford not to try and do them.’