James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “In a recent NAHT survey of school leaders, 86 per cent believed that school readiness has become worse over the past five years, and speech, language and communication issues were identified as the greatest concern, with 97 per cent identifying this as a problem and almost half (47 per cent) saying it was the most significant issue.
“Damian Hinds is absolutely right to be looking at early intervention to help parents support children in this crucial area of development. Children’s early speech and language skills are the foundations upon which all future learning is built, and if children fall behind in the early years it can prove difficult, often impossible, for them to catch up later, even with additional help.
“However, this will only go so far – what is often needed is specialist help from speech and language therapists. This expert support is something that schools have been finding it harder and harder to resource, as both school budgets and local authority budgets have been cut. Further investment is needed to enable these crucial experts to continue their work, in all areas of the country.”
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