Over the past year, it has become evident that the continued lockdowns have had unintended and long-lasting effects on society as we know it. In a report released by SpeechLink SLCN, there is growing evidence that the past year has had a large impact on young children’s speech and language development, with 62,000 reception-aged children receiving language therapy.
Coming from a sample of 50,000 pupils across England, it has highlighted that a number of four to five-year-olds are needing extra help with language skills. The cause for this delay in their development is the isolation that young children are put in, with many having only been able to talk to their family bubble for most of last year. Their limited contact with grandparents, social distancing, and being unable to go on playdates have left some children developmentally stunted.
The report surveyed 58 primary schools, and these were some of the findings.
- 76% of pupils starting in September 2020 needed more support with communication
- 96% said that they were concerned about pupils speech and language development
- Around 56% of parents have said that they are concerned about their children starting at school following spring and summer lockdowns.
The government has already said that it is investing an extra £18m to go towards early years language development catchup which forms part of the £700m package that is being spent on extra support for children in school.
62,000 reception-aged children have been signed up for speech and language support that will benefit them after the pandemic. This will be available for the 2021/22 school year with 20,000 school assistants so far having received the online training.
Minister Vicky Ford has said that the early years were ‘most crucial‘ when it comes to their development.
However, Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green has said that she feels that this is “an afterthought“, along with much of the government’s attitudes to children throughout this pandemic.
Whilst children might have been placed at a linguistic disadvantage throughout this pandemic, what is certain is that this issue needs to be remedied quickly.