May 15

Information on proposed governmental policy and NELI

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What’s going on?
Labour said last year they would make sure every school ran an early language intervention. We supported this at Speech and Language UK. But in April, Bridget Phillipson, the Shadow Education Secretary, said that Labour would specifically put the Nuffield Early Language Intervention into every school. We don’t think that’s the right policy and have written to her. We’ve said that schools, nurseries and childminders should be able to choose the intervention that best fits the children in their school or setting, rather than Government deciding this. We know that lots of settings have found a mix of interventions works best. And we think teachers and other professionals should be able to decide to start intervening before Reception age.

What can I do about this?
If you agree that schools should have a choice of what interventions they use, you could write to your local Labour party candidate. You can find their name and email here: Find your local Labour candidates. As a local voter (and expert), you could make a big difference to the party’s future policy.

What could I say?
You don’t need to say much. A page maximum is enough. You could say:
- That you’re getting in touch after Bridget Phillipson said in a speech to the Association of School and College Leaders on 9th March that Labour in government will fund the Nuffield Early Language Intervention for all schools
- How you have worked with children with speech and language challenges and supported schools or other settings with interventions (keep this brief!)
- Why you think schools should have a choice of interventions. This might be because:
  • NELI takes a lot of staff to deliver and only works for small groups of children. Other interventions can be used for larger groups of children and less staff time. With the very large numbers of children behind in talking and understanding words and schools’ budgets being squeezed, NELI alone is impractical
  • Schools that run nurseries should be able to use central Government money to run other interventions with younger children so they can thrive earlier
  • Many of the children whose language was particularly affected during covid are now beyond reception age and schools need the flexibility to use interventions for older age groups as well, depending on what children in their schools most need
- That no single early language intervention is going to improve children’s speech and language development enough after the shocks of covid and the cost of living crisis. The current Government have funded NELI for schools since 2021 and in that time the number of children with speech and language challenges has gone up to 1 in 5. Alongside these interventions, teachers need much better training so they can use opportunities every day to improve children’s communication skills. And the 1 million
children with lifelong speech and language challenges need specialist, evidence-based long-term support, rather than sitting on waiting lists for years.
- You would like the candidate to write to Bridget Phillipson to ask her to give schools a choice of early language interventions, as well as committing to improving teacher training on speech and language development and reducing waits for specialist support.

If you are happy to, please forward a copy of your email or any response you get to:

We really want more children to get early language support and for public money to be spent in the best way to help the most children as early as possible. Thank you for helping to achieve this.