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Children: Language Difficulties

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his policy is on the provision of early-stage learning facilities and support for children with language difficulties; and if he will make a statement. (322018)

Following the Bercow review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), the Government published “Better Communication: An action plan to improve services for children and young people with SLCN”, backed by £12 million investment. As part of the action plan, we—together with the Department of Health are piloting good practice in commissioning SLCN services in 16 areas in order to develop a national framework to improve the way services are delivered for children across the country.

In the Early Years, we have taken substantial steps to improve the quality of early learning and care including the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage which sets the standards for supporting children’s early learning and care from birth to five. Alongside the EYFS, we are investing in the work force, including targeted programmes like Every Child a Talker (ECaT) designed to improve children’s early language development through professional development for practitioners. ECaT was launched with a first wave of local authorities in 2008. It has promoted co-operation between local services, especially between Speech and Language services and early learning and care, to support children experiencing and at risk of language delay. From April 2010, all local authorities in England will have been funded to run the programme.