Dear Language Leaders,

Welcome to our third Language Leaders newsletter - if you missed our last one, you can access it here. These quarterly updates aim to keep you in touch with information and good practice around speech, language and communication that is relevant to you, your school and your pupils.

As always, do let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see in future newsletters, or if there is anything that you'd like to share with the group. We would also be very keen to hear your thoughts about what you would like to get out of the Language Leaders network and what we can do to facilitate this. To get in touch, just send an email to

Just a quick reminder to say that we still have spaces available for our Language Leaders Networking Seminar, which will take place at the Ibis Styles Centre hotel in Birmingham from 10:30am to 4:00pm on Thursday 30th March . Among other topics, we will be discussing workforce development and commissioning guidance - we plan to get a full agenda out to attendees in the coming weeks. Travel expenses will be reimbursed for this meeting and lunch will be provided. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to

If you know anyone who would be interested in becoming a Language Leader, please do not hesitate to put them in touch with us. We know how important senior leadership teams are in schools for driving change and we’d appreciate all of your help with spreading the word about the importance of speech, language and communication and supporting pupils with speech, language and communication needs.

Campaign demands support for speaking skills after teachers describe training ‘barriers’

NPDWA campaign calling for greater emphasis on the development of spoken communication skills in schools has been launched after teachers identified a lack of training and support as ‘barriers’.

Voice 21, an organisation linked to School 21, an east London free school, has teamed up with the English-Speaking Union education charity to establish the Oracy Network. The campaign group will push for extra training and support to help teachers develop pupils’ speaking skills.

The organisation will develop training programmes and resources for schools alongside a network of specialist oracy teachers and regional hubs. An inquiry informed by trials currently being carried out in some English schools will go ahead in the new year.

The launch today comes alongside research by the think tank LKMCo and polling of teachers by YouGov that pointed to a need for an increased focus on speaking and listening skill development in schools.

It also follows the disclosure that between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of young people in custody have a communication impairment.

To read the full story, click here.

End tests for seven-year-olds and bring back reception baseline assessment, say heads

NAHT review group calls for single baseline assessment in reception and an end to tests at key stage 1. Tests for seven-year-olds should be abolished and baseline assessment reintroduced in Reception class, a review of primary assessment published by the NAHT, the union for school leaders, has recommended.

It argues there is no need for two sets of official assessments so early on in school. “In the proposed model there would be two statutory assessment points one at the start of a child’s time in primary school and one at the end," the report says. "The key measure arising from statutory assessment should be the progress children make between these two points therefore end of key stage 1 assessments should be removed as a statutory requirement."

To see the full list, click here.

Grammars plan: heads tell education secretary of their 'deep opposition'

A group of headteachers of non-selective secondary schools in Kent have written to the education secretary to voice their “deeply held, vehement opposition” to government plans to expand grammar schools across the country. The group’s views are significant as they work in a county where the 11-plus and selection are still in place, so they have firsthand experience of the impact of grammar schools on non-selective schools in the area and the children who attend them.

The letter to Justine Greening, signed by 33 headteachers of Kent’s secondary non-selective schools and academies, was sent as the government’s consultation on extending selection in education closed on Monday. It warns of “philosophical and systemic flaws” in the proposals and calls for selection in Kent and elsewhere to be abandoned rather than expanded.

To read the full story, click here.

Vast majority of heads oppose 90 per cent EBacc plan

Delay in the publication of results of government consultation is causing uncertainty for schools, warn campaigners. More than four-fifths of school leaders are against government plans to make 90 per cent of pupils take the English Baccalaureate, a new survey shows. The research comes after TES revealed last week that the results of the government’s EBacc consultation – which closed a year ago this month – may not now be published until the summer.

But amid the significant delays in releasing the findings, the opposition to the performance measure remains as strong as ever. A new survey from the NAHT headteachers’ union, shared exclusively with TES, reveals that 93 per cent of secondary leaders believe that the EBacc should not be compulsory.

To read the full story, click here.

New RCSLT report on the SEND reforms in England

The RCSLT has published a new report regarding the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms in England. The report outlines the findings of a SEND survey, commissioned by the RCSLT, regarding members’ experiences of the SEND reforms, associated successes, challenges and areas for improvement. 

The report highlights mixed progress in implementation and worrying trends. RCSLT members reported that:

  • children without EHC plans are not getting the support that they need, and there has been a refocus of resources to support children with EHC plans, which has often been to the detriment of children without EHC plans.

  • joint commissioning arrangements are patchy, and in some cases speech and language therapy services are not being commissioned for children and young people aged 0-2 and 18-25. 

  • engagement with the EHC planning process, including attending planning meetings, continues to be a challenge. 

Encouragingly, the survey has also highlighted areas of positive practice that can be built upon including the involvement of parent and carers in decision-making and partnership working.  Over the coming months the RCSLT will be taking forward policy recommendations from the report to help improve support for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). 

Read the full report here, or an executive summary of the report here.

Major new review into children's speech and language

Ten years on from a landmark report into children’s speech, language and communication, a follow-up review is to be published.

Children’s communication charity I CAN, in partnership with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), has today launched an inquiry to inform ‘Bercow: Ten Years On.’

Evidence will be gathered from a range of practitioners, parents/carers and young people, as well as service managers and employers, and experts in the field.

The review, which will be chaired by the former Government communication champion for children Jean Gross, is due to be published in early 2018 – ten years after the Bercow Review into provision for children with language difficulties. It is being put together in response to figures that show an ‘alarming’ number of children are starting school with significant unidentified language difficulties, as well major overhauls to the education and health system.

To read the full story, click here.





New Speech, Language and Communication Framework

We are very excited to launch the improved and updated Speech, Language and Communication Framework (SLCF).

The SLCF is a free online professional development tool from The Communication Trust, accessible to all, which sets out the skills and knowledge that everyone working with children and young people need in order to support the speech, language and communication (SLC) development of those they work with.

The SLCF self-evaluation tool enables individuals to assess their skills, knowledge and confidence in SLC, to highlight their professional development needs, and to find training and information to ‘fill the gaps’ identified by the SLCF. Individuals can track their continuing professional development (CPD) progress over time, allowing them to see where their knowledge and confidence has increased.

The SLCF also has a group function allowing groups of practitioners, departments, whole settings or organisations to assess their collective strengths and development needs. This function can enable settings to prioritise and plan CPD for staff, to inform objective setting and appraise staff based on their CPD progress.
In addition, the SLCF provides short online universal level activities to support learning or enable practitioners to check how much they know about a particular aspect of SLC development or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Register for the SLCF for free today at

The Communication Trust would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of using the SLCF, and would be grateful if you could spare 10 minutes to complete this survey -
We would appreciate your help in spreading the word about the SLCF as far and wide as possible.

To help you do so, we have put together some key messaging and social media posts. Please feel free to use this messaging on your websites, in your newsletters, and in direct contact with your networks. If you require something specific for a piece of work please contact Kelly at

The Communication Trust’s ‘One Stop Guide’to commissioning speech and language therapy services for your school

Are you looking to commission speech and language support for your school? Or would you like some more guidance on decision making to make the most out of your commissioned SLT service? The Communication Trust have developed a ‘One Stop Guide’ to take you through some key steps to consider when you are planning to commission speech and language support and therapy services for your school.

These include top tips on decision makingaround the service that you commission, practical steps to take to integrate your service in to your school and how to assess if it’s actually working. To research the guidance, TCT conducted interviews with school staff around England, leading to the development of case studies sharing schools experience of commissioning.

To access the guidance, an accompanying short video and case studies, click here.

What is Platform 3? – The video!

The Communication Trust are excited to share a new Platform 3 video which is now live on their website here and on YouTube here. The video provides an overview of Platform 3 and the steps involved in completing the Level 3 Award via this online route.

Platform 3 is an online and cost effective learning route for the delivery and undertaking of the Level 3 qualification: Supporting Children and Young People’s Speech, Language and Communication. Platform 3 helps all practitioners working with children and young people from a wide range of backgrounds to access this continuing professional development (CPD) Award.

Why is this qualification so important?

Speech, language and communication needs are the most prevalent special educational need in state funded primary schools and are associated with the 3 most prevalent needs in secondary schools: social, emotional and mental health; moderate learning difficulties; and specific learning difficulties.

Raising the skill level of everyone working with children and young people helps to increase the quality of provision and ensures better outcomes for children and young people.

Contact Us


If you would like to contact us please call 0207 843 2526 or email
The Communication Trust, 31 Angel Gate, Goswell Road, London, EC1V 2PT


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