Latest News

Latest News

It’s been just over two years since we launched The Box elearning and we wanted to update you on the impact it’s having, not just in the UK, but around the world.

Hopefully you are all aware of The Box – a free online modular box of learning for professionals working in the criminal justice sector. It’s designed to help professionals to identify clients who may need support with speech, language and communication, understand how this might impact on their clients and learn how to improve their interaction with individuals for better outcomes. It was developed as part of the RCSLT’s justice campaign.

Global reach

The Box has had 1,513 sign ups since its launch, with learners coming from a range of settings and countries.

People have signed up from across the world – including the US, Australia and New Zealand, India, Egypt and even Singapore!

We were also approached by a team from Finland interested in doing a similar project, with research funded by their Ministry of Justice. They are looking at speech-language intervention for young offenders with communication challenges and are interested in the approach used for The Box.

Meanwhile, Unlocked Graduates, a leadership development scheme for graduates and career changers to become prison officers, has licensed the content from us to use on their own training platform. And we have just been approached by a medical training provider in India to do the same – CMEpedia is a site which brings together training material to offer colleagues in the developing world similar access to medical knowledge as their counterparts in the developed world.


According to our evaluation, the course has increased people’s confidence in supporting clients with speech, language and communication needs. After taking the course 70% said they feel ‘confident’ and 24% ‘very confident’ (5% answered ‘N/A’ as they already support people with SLCN).

44% of respondents rated their knowledge of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ prior to taking the course, which increased to 95% rating their knowledge as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ afterwards.

99% of those who completed the survey would recommend The Box to colleagues.

How would you have rated your knowledge of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) before taking the elearning?

Chart showing 44% of respondents rated their knowledge of SLCN as 'good' or 'excellent' before taking the elearning

How would you rate your knowledge of SLCN after taking the elearning?

Chart showing 95% of respondents rated their knowledge of SLCN as 'good' or 'excellent' after the training

Impact in our national influencing work

We have used The Box in our engagement with the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Justice Board. The Ministry of Justice has added it to their learning guidance for prison officers in learning difficulties and learning disabilities. It was used to illustrate the range of communication needs that people may experience and to show that with adjustments to your interaction you can improve the environment in which you work. The Youth Justice Board have added it to their portal of good practice examples. Both of these successes show how well received it has been by national policy officials.

What’s next?

As part of its Sentencing White Paper published in September, the Ministry of Justice is discussing with the RCSLT about how to support staff to better understand and respond to people with communication needs across the justice system. The Box will form a major part of our discussions.

Find out more about The Box training in our learning section or go straight to the RCSLT CPD system to register.

Over the past few years, the RCSLT has been working with Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education to develop guidance to support the commissioning of early years speech, language and communication (SLC) pathways. We are delighted that this guidance – Best start in speech, language and communication – has now been published.

The guidance makes clear the critical role that speech and language therapists play at a universal, targeted and specialist level in improving outcomes for children.

One element of the pathway is the Healthy Child Programme and the role of health visitors in the identification of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The current measure used by health visitors is the ages and stages questionnaire (ASQ). However, feedback from professionals, including from SLTs, is that the ASQ is not sensitive enough to pick up all children with SLCN. In fact, the ASQ is intended to be a population measure rather than a screening tool.

As a result, in partnership with the Department for Education, Public Health England commissioned Newcastle University, led by Professor James Law, to research and develop a more sensitive measure.

The measure that has been developed is called the Early language identification measure (ELIM) and intervention. The measure uses existing evidence and was piloted and evaluated in five areas in England. The ELIM is intended to support early identification and intervention of SLCN, resulting in more timely and appropriate referrals to SLT. Services and professionals will determine applicability for local use.

Alongside the tool, Public Health England is rolling out training to support health visitors to use the ELIM and intervention with children aged two to two and a half alongside the ASQ, within the Healthy Child Programme. The approach being used by Public Health England is to engage the health visitors who have already been trained as part of the early SLC training programme – this was commissioned by PHE and developed by the Institute of Health Visiting following a procurement process, with input from RCSLT and a wider expert advisory group.

The ELIM is an evidence-based assessment and intervention tool that above all is intended to support children and families, in addition to supporting professional practice and service development. Work is underway to allocate a SNOMED code to the ELIM which it’s hoped would enable data collection in the future.

Find out more about the ELIM and read the guidance

The Best start in speech, language and communication guidance was published on 30 October 2020 and is available to download on the website.


A new online dysphagia training resource is already proving popular, with 16,339 launches of the training programme and 1,593 individuals from across the UK completing the modules. Workforce groups have included over 400 social care staff, 412 care support/health care assistants, 158 SLTs, 35 dietitians, 16 medics including GPs, 91 nurses, 56 carers, as well as two bus drivers.

Health Education England eLearning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) has worked in partnership with the speech and language therapy team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, RCSLT and industry experts to develop the Dysphagia Guide e-learning resource for those working with people living with dysphagia.

Developed with the help of care home staff, the Dysphagia Guide can be used to support competency acquisition, as outlined in the Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Competency Framework (EDSCF), and provides guidance for managers in policy and workforce development.

Its design and accessibility makes it ideal for ‘on the spot’ demonstration, accessing resources, memory refreshment or as part of a formal training programme.

Kamini Gadhok, RCSLT CEO, said: “The RCSLT led on the development of the EDSCF and so is delighted to have been involved in supporting this e-learning resource on dysphagia training. With the impact of COVID-19, the need for effective training across the health and care sector has become even more essential to ensure that people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties get the help they need.”

To mark the RCSLT’s 75th anniversary year, a group of members recently met with our patron, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex GCVO, to talk about the amazing work of speech and language therapists and the impact they have on the lives of those they help.

The conversation, which was held virtually via Zoom, covered a wide range of topics, including members’ work with COVID-19 patients, telehealth, diversity within the profession and the importance of good leadership.

The meeting was attended by RCSLT chair Dr Della Money, CEO Kamini Gadhok, trustee Pauline Downie, and members Sarah Wallace, Catherine Stewart, Kara Beattie, James Smithson, Charlotte Thompson, Angela Whiteley, Heeral Davda, Rachel Radford, Rafiah Badat and Rebekah Davies.

During the meeting, Her Royal Highness expressed her pride in RCSLT members, saying:

“Speech and language therapists are a particular breed – very caring and very empathetic – so I’m not surprised at all that they’ve stepped up and have had to perform all sorts of different roles.”

Watch the full discussion.

Today, 12 November 2020, sees the launch of the new Communication Access Symbol and accompanying training, designed to make life easier for the approximately 14 million people in the UK who have communication needs.

Two faces looking at one another with arrows forming a cyclical flow

The new symbol – akin to the wheelchair access symbol – was created by the RCSLT in partnership with several leading charities and organisations, all united by a common aim to increase communication accessibility across all sectors of society.

With the launch of the symbol, a package of free online training and resources is also being rolled out to enable businesses and organisations to provide a more inclusive experience and environment for all their customers. Those that take up the training will be able to display the Communication Access Symbol – demonstrating they have all their customers’ needs close at heart.

RCSLT members have been integral to the development of the Communication Access training standards and in securing early adopters of the initiative. We hope you’ll continue to encourage engagement with the initiative on a local level and support our vision of improving the lives of people with communication needs.


Inclusive communication for all


How to get involved

We’ll be bringing you news about the initiative on social media and in Bulletin – and you can share your own stories, including from any service users you know, by using the hashtag #CommunicationAccess on social media.

To find out more about the initiative and how to get involved, visit the Communication Access UK website.

Read the press release about the Communication Access UK launch.

From 1 November 2020, all speech and language therapy students will become eligible for free membership of the RCSLT.

The move by the RCSLT Board of Trustees aims to increase students’ access to support and guidance at a time when many have seen their studies and placements severely disrupted by the pandemic.

Students who are already members will be converted to free membership and receive a partial refund if they paid for the full year in advance. Non-members and those currently using our free online access offer will need to apply to become members.

To take up this offer, students should apply here.

We hope that the wide range of RCSLT member benefits will help students to make the most of their studies and enter the speech and language therapy workforce fully prepared.

Member benefits include:

  • The RCSLT website, home to a host of learning resources
  • All RCSLT guidance, which can support you in your studies
  • The RCSLT CPD diary, where you can record your learning
  • More than 100 professional networks – joining these is a great way to build your CV
  • Online access to the RCSLT magazine Bulletin, and a subscription to the email newsletter
  • Access to the new student network in the RCSLT online professional networks area, where you can ask questions, share resources and connect with other students across the UK
  • Help and support when you need it through our dedicated enquiries service,