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New Prime Minister Has The Power To Improve The Lives Of 1.4 Million Children With Speech, Language And Communication Difficulties

I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) say the new Prime Minister will have the power to improve the lives of millions of children and young people with long-term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), by committing to the development of a cross-governmental strategy to support these children and young people.


Their call comes as the government responds to their Bercow: Ten Years On - 1st Anniversary Update, which highlights what progress has been made in delivering the recommendations of Bercow: Ten Years On and what work is still needed to ensure that no child or young person is left behind.


The joint response by the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, and the Ministry of Justice reaffirmed their commitment to supporting children and young people with SLCN and set out the work that they have already undertaken.


However, their response also recognises that more work is needed and I CAN and the RCSLT are concerned that the system is continuing to fail the 1.4 million children and young people with SLCN. The evidence of this has further grown since the publication of Bercow: Ten Years on:


  • A report by the Children’s Commissioner for England - We need to talk: Access to speech and language therapy - published in June 2019 found enormous levels of variation in reported spending on speech and language services, with a downward trend in more than half of areas.

  • Figures published by the Department for Education last week revealed that across all pupils with special educational needs, Speech, Language and Communication Needs is now the most common type of primary need, at 22% of SEN pupils.

  • In a survey of more than 1,000 parents, carried out by YouGov on behalf of I CAN and the RCSLT, 55% of parents of children with SLCN said their child did not get enough support, and 59% said they had to fight to get support for their child.


I CAN and RCSLT are calling on the new Prime Minister to pledge to:


  • Create a fully funded, long-term strategy for children with SLCN.
  • Make sure that services for children with SLCN are jointly commissioned by health, social care, youth justice and education.
  • Provide sufficient funding for speech and language therapy so that no child or young person is left behind.



Bob Reitemeier CBE, CEO of children’s communication charity I CAN, says: “In recent years we have seen huge strides forward in provision for children’s early language and receiving a response written jointly by health, education and justice shows an appreciation of the need for a cross-departmental approach.


“However, Government recognises there is more to do. It can’t be right that many children and young people with speech, language and communication needs are still having their needs missed.”


Kamini Gadhok MBE, CEO of RCSLT says: “Far too many children and young people with speech, language and communication needs are not getting the input they deserve. This has a profound effect on their ability to access the curriculum, to form relationships, to develop healthy self-esteem and ultimately get on in life.


“The new Prime Minister needs to create a long-term strategy for these children and make sure that they receive the consistent support they need to thrive. This strategy must be properly funded and support successful joint commissioning locally.”



To read the joint statement on government’s response to the Bercow: Ten Years On - 1st Anniversary Update visit www.ican.org.uk/ (need web link)


To read Bercow: Ten Years On 1st Anniversary Update please visit https://www.bercow10yearson.com/bercow-ten-years-on-one-year-on/


To read the Bercow: Ten Years On report and to find out more about the review please visit www.bercow10yearson.com


About Us

About I CAN 

I CAN is the children's communication charity. The charity specialises in helping children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to thrive in a 21st- century world.


Children and young people can fail to reach their potential because communication difficulties are not visible, often mistaken for something else or not noticed at all. I CAN's mission is that no child should be left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.


For further information on I CAN’s work visit ican.org.uk or talkingpoint.org.uk or follow on Twitter @ICANcharity and Facebook at facebook.com/icantalk.


 About the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists

 The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK, representing over 17,000 members. It facilitates and promotes research into the field of speech and language therapy – the care for individuals with communication, swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties. It promotes better education and training of speech and language therapists and is responsible for setting and maintaining high standards in education, clinical practice and ethical conduct. 

For more information on the RCSLT and its Giving Voice campaign visit www.rcslt.org


Georgia Berry

Senior press officer



Phone: +44 0207 843 2539