Press release

New research shows early intervention is key in helping children with special needs

Reactions to recent findings about how to improve education for special needs children.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Children who have speech, language and communication needs should be helped as soon as possible, new research has concluded.

The Better Communication Research Programme, published today, recommends that there should be:

  • a stronger focus on the outcomes that children and young people with speech, language and communication needs achieve
  • continual services at different levels to meet children’s individual needs
  • professional development for all those working with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs, to recognise needs earlier and provide the right support – across education and health

The report also recommends that data guidance on special educational needs for schools should be reviewed. This would be to encourage teachers to focus on children’s individual profile of needs, rather solely on labels when deciding on what support to provide.

The government welcomes the research and its recommendations. It supports the government’s special educational needs reforms with its emphasis on early intervention, close involvement of families in decision making, and joint commissioning of services across education, health and social care.

Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister, said:

Communication is fundamental to all learning. It is vital that children with speech, language and communication needs get the support they deserve as soon as possible.

The Better Communication Research Programme provides a rich and extensive source of evidence on what works in identifying the needs of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.

It will help all those commissioning and providing services, across education and health, to improve their planning. It will also improve the effectiveness of the support provided.

The programme has developed practical resources for schools to use in developing a welcoming classroom that support communication.

The Communication Trust, representing over 40 organisations in the speech, language and communication needs field, has welcomed the research.

Anne Fox, Director of the Communication Trust, said:

This landmark research is to be welcomed by all those and committed to supporting children and young people who struggle with communication. This significant investment in research now needs to be brought to life in the places where children spend their days.

The Trust and our communication consortium is fully committed to ensuring all those who work with children and young people with SLCN know how to support them and have practical tools to do this. This should happen during their initial training as well as during their continuing professional development, especially as children’s needs change over time and in different situations.

We’re working with the department and the research team to disseminate the resources and outcomes of the research, including an online database of evidenced interventions to support children’s communication.

Note to editors

  1. The Better Communication Research programme findings are on the research page of the Department for Education’s website.

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Published 27 December 2012