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Pre-school Education: Speech and Language Disorders

Question for Department for Education

UIN 125343, tabled on 18 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support his Department is providing to early years staff to help them understand, identify and support children with difficulties in speaking and understanding as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

Answered on

28 February 2022

The department is investing up to £180 million in the early years sector through new programmes focusing on key areas such as speech and language development for the youngest children, to support recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes:

  • New, universally accessible online training to upskill practitioners and improve their knowledge of child development.
  • Access to mentoring support for early years practitioners to help strengthen childrens learning and development.
  • An expansion of the Professional Development Programme, which has a focus on early language, as well as maths, and personal, social, and emotional development.
  • A significant expansion of the number of staff in group-based providers, and childminders, with an accredited level 3 special educational needs coordinator qualification. This will lead to better identification of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and better support for children with SEND.
  • The Nuffield Early Language Intervention, which is a proven programme aimed at the reception aged children needing extra support with their speech and language development, includes training for staff on identifying speech and language difficulties and is proven to help children make around three months of additional progress. Two thirds of all primary schools are signed up to deliver this programme.
  • The review of the early years educator level 3 qualification, which will explore ways to strengthen SEND expertise in the workforce.