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School leaders welcome much-needed speech and language help for children starting school, but call for additional investment

In a speech on social mobility today Damian Hinds set out a new ambition to halve the number of children starting school without the early speaking and language or reading skills they need. Responding, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of 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.

“So school leaders will welcome today’s announcement – anything that helps parents support children in this crucial area of development is positive. Children’s early speech and language skills are the foundations upon which all future learning is built.

“It is good to see a commitment from the government to finding practical ideas about how best to boost parents’ confidence in boosting their child’s speech and language development, and NAHT will happily pass on our members’ expertise in this area.

“However, we would also urge the government to invest in vital services including speech and language therapy, and early years services for disadvantaged families, so that those children who need specialist support receive it as early as possible. If the government is serious about improving social mobility, early years is the sensible place to invest additional funding.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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