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Speech and Language Therapy

Volume 693: debated on Monday 26 April 2021

What assessment he has made of the effect on children’s attainment of the (a) suspension of and (b) time taken to deliver speech and language therapy in schools. (914724)

We have been very clear that speech and language therapists are able to visit educational settings and that ideally they should not be redeployed during the most recent lockdown, although that was not always possible in all parts of the country, so some children will have missed some therapy sessions. However, I met representatives of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists last week to discuss this important issue.

I thank the Minister for her answer, but she will be aware that reports say that 70% of families do not have access to pre-pandemic levels of speech and language therapies. When does she hope to see this restarted in all schools? What specific steps is she taking to address the educational impact of delays for children who need this particular support?

We have been very clear that speech and language therapists are able to attend all educational settings. As we move out of restrictions, more therapists are back in schools delivering face-to-face therapy. Schools can use their catch-up and recovery funding to purchase additional therapies, and we know of examples where that has already happened. For example, my advisers spoke to a special school in Greater Manchester that has done exactly that, and it was very pleased with the services provided. Therapies are really important for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and we want them back as soon as possible. That is why we are investing more of our recovery and catch-up funding in special schools and for those with SEND than we would for others.