About us

About us

Introducing the RCSLT

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) was established on 6 January 1945 to promote the art and science of speech and language therapy – the care for individuals with communication, swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties.

We are the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK; providing leadership and setting professional standards.

We facilitate and promote research into the field of speech and language therapy, promote better education and training of speech and language therapists and provide information for our members and the public about speech and language therapy.

Find out more about the services that we provide, the campaign work we do with governments and partner organisations and our activities with educators, including:

History of the RCSLT

The College of Speech Therapists (CST) arose from the amalgamation of the Association of Speech Therapists and the British Society of Speech Therapists in 1944.

This new body aimed to:

  • promote the study of speech therapy in the UK
  • seek improvement and maintain a high standard of knowledge
  • unite all members of the profession

In 1945, CST fellows and licentiates were granted application to the Register of Medical Auxiliaries. By 1955 the College had withdrawn from the register and published its own member’s directory.

King George VI, who received speech and language therapy for his stammer, became the College’s first Royal Patron in 1948. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, continued this support after his death in 1952 and become the college’s patron in 1959.

In 1990, speech therapists changed their name and title to `speech and language therapists`.  The college was awarded the right to call itself the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in 1995.  HRH The Countess of Wessex became the current RCSLT patron in 2003 after the death of the Queen Mother in 2002.

You can also read a brief history of speech and language therapy in the UK and view a copy of the letter sent to King George VI by Lionel Logue.

Legal structure

The Charity is known as the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (the RCSLT); registered number 273724. It is a registered charity in Scotland, registered number SC041191.

The RCSLT is also a company limited by guarantee, registered number 518344, and therefore has no share capital. In the event of its winding up, the members’ liability is limited to £1 per member. The Memorandum and Articles, which were last amended at an EGM on 5 December 2019, govern the RCSLT, supplemented by its Bylaws.

It has a trading arm, known as CSLT Trading Ltd; registered number 0268820.

Governance structure

The Board of Trustees (the Board) is the highest governing body of the RCSLT. There are three subordinate governing committees: the Finance and Resources Committee (FRC), Professional Practice and Policy Committee (PPPC), and the Honours Committee.

In addition, Hub Forums, whose purpose is to engage with members in each UK country, advise the Board, but are not in themselves governing committees.

RCSLT Strategic Plan

The RCSLT Strategic Plan is a road map that sets out where we are as a profession and where we want to be by 2022.

The RCSLT current strategic plan runs from 2018-22. It breaks into three main areas: the mission, the purpose and the focus areas for how we achieve the mission and vision.

Enabling better lives for people with communication and swallowing needs.

We are the professional body that promotes excellence in speech and language therapy.

Focus areas

  • Quality practice
  • Innovative organisation
  • Active influencing

Here are the focus areas in detail:

QUALITY PRACTICE Research and Innovation Shape research capacity, capability and culture within the profession
Promote the funding of key areas of SLT research
Promote understanding and use of and evidence-based approach to practice
Workforce and leadership Become an intelligence resource regarding workforce trends
Pre-registration and post-registration training is responsive to the changing environment
Support members throughout their careers to develop their leadership, knowledge, evidence based practice and skills
Professional guidance Support members to develop, critically evaluate, promote and improve their services, including through recording outcomes
Understand the implications of new technology and supporting members to use it
Service users Continue to co-produce with and advocate alongside service users and their representative organisations
INNOVATIVE ORGANISATION Leadership within Ensure that the governance and finances of the RCSLT are sound and in accordance with the law and best practice
RCSLT is a diverse and progressive employer
Member led Enhance our communication, engagement and support to members, including resilience
Digital Work with members to develop digital services and functionality that meet their needs and supports member engagement
ACTIVE INFLUENCING Creating profile and opportunity Be proactive in raising our profile across all mediums
Influence at a regional, national and international level
Developing evidence based policy and resources Gather evidence, engage service users and develop resources to underpin our influencing
Respond effectively to policy developments across Governments

Board of trustees

The trustees’ role (who are also the legal directors of the company) is primarily to ensure good governance of the organisation. They also provide appropriate representation of the views of members at a strategic level on the Board and take account of the financial and business implications of any decisions they make. The trustees conduct regular horizon scanning, and have a comprehensive three-year strategic plan containing high-level objectives which is kept under regular review at each Board meeting. The role of the chief executive and staff members is to implement these objectives.

The role of the Board is to:

  • Give strategic direction to the RCSLT
  • Set the organisation’s values and standards
  • Ensure compliance with its governing documents and relevant legislation
  • Ensure that the RCSLT pursues its objectives as defined in its governing document
  • Ensure that the RCSLT is a responsive and supportive organisation that promotes member and user engagement
  • Ensure that the RCSLT applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objects
  • Ensure that there is an appropriate scheme of delegation to its sub-committees and Senior Management Team
  • Be collectively responsible for adding value to the organisation
  • Provide active leadership
  • Safeguard the RCSLT’s assets
  • Promote diversity and equality

The committees and hub forums report to the Board. The CEO and senior managers attend the board to provide input as necessary. The Board meets four times per year.

Current Board members

The current Board members are:

  • Ms Mary Heritage – Chair
  • Dr Sean Pert – Deputy Chair
  • Mr Richard Cryer – Honorary Treasurer / Chair, Finance and Resources Committee (FRC)
  • Mrs Ann Whitehorn –  General Trustee
  • Mrs Andrea Robinson – Country Representative for England – North
  • Ms Viki Baker – Country Representative for England – South
  • Mrs Pauline Downie – Country Representative for Scotland
  • Ms Rosalind Kyle – Country Representative for Northern Ireland
  • Mrs Lisa Chess – Country Representative for Wales
  • Dr Rebecca Palmer – Trustee for Research
  • Ms Lesley Cavalli – General Trustee and Chair. Professional Practice and Policy Committee (PPPC)
  • Mrs Janet Chambers – General Trustee
  • Ms Frances Johnstone – General Trustee
  • Ms Angela Shimada – General Trustee
  • Ms Leasil Burrow – Lay member (HR/OD)
  • Mr John Humphrey – Lay member (digital)

Committees overview

Finances and Resources Committee (FRC)

The FRC is responsible to the Board for overseeing all matters of finance, investments, contracting and tendering, risk management (FRC elements), HR, IT infrastructure, buildings and facilities, membership administration and Heritage work.

It has delegated powers up to approved limits to commit expenditure, invest assets and approve policies, and makes recommendations to the Board for other matters as set out in the Board’s scheme of delegation. It meets four times a year.

Professional Practice and Policy Committee (PPPC)

The PPPC considers and makes recommendations upon matters relating to professional practice, standards, policy and public affairs, and ensures that the perspective of members and service users in the four UK nations is taken into account, in the development and pursuit of the strategic aims and objectives of the RCSLT and in supporting the Board.

The PPPC debates current and future cross-cutting issues in sufficient depth to inform policy decisions by the Board.

In the process of consideration, discussion and debate, the PPPC consults with other RCSLT committees and groups and with the wider membership. It meets three times a year.

Honours committee

RCSLT Honours

Honours will not be awarded in 2020.
Instead, we are planning a celebration of the whole profession and all of the contributions and sacrifices you made during this difficult period

More details will be announced soon. 

Our national awards ceremony is one of the most prestigious events in the RCSLT calendar and since 1945 these awards have given recognition to leaders at all levels within and outside the profession who have demonstrated outstanding contribution to service users and the profession itself. 

To nominate someone, you must be a certified RCSLT member.

The awards comprise of three categories:

  • Fellowships
  • Honorary Fellowships
  • Sternberg Award for Clinical Innovation


Fellowship awards honour RCSLT members who have made outstanding contributions to the profession.

The Fellowship committee is looking for nominations from the entire profession, and the awards are open to any RCSLT member (including assistants), no matter where they are employed.

Examples of areas of contribution could include but are not exclusive to:

  • Clinical practice
  • Leadership
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Community impact
  • Influencing/policy impact
  • Promoting the profession
  • Excellence in practice education

Honorary Fellowships

Honorary Fellowships acknowledge and honour non-SLTs and overseas SLTs who deserve recognition for outstanding service to speech and language therapy and contributions for the benefit of those with speech, language, communication and/or swallowing needs.

Sternberg Award for Clinical Innovation

The RCSLT is privileged to offer two awards of £1,000 (donated by the Sir Sigmund Sternberg Charitable Foundation) for innovative work.

The initiative should be new to the location and of demonstrable benefit to the service, the clients and the profession.

It should have been in existence for at least six months and started within the previous two years.

If you have any questions, please email us or Tel: 020 7378 3012

RCSLT Honours Roll Call 1945 to 2019

Note on Data Protection:

Nominees’ personal data will be protected in accordance with the RCSLT’s Privacy Statement.

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