Find out about RCSLT projects designed to promote diversity and careers in speech and language therapy and learn how you can get involved.
You can join in projects (or develop your own) by emailing email@example.com to join the careers and diversity network.
Careers promotion working group
Proposed focus areas
- Promoting speech and language therapy as a career
Projects about promoting speech and language therapy as a career
Improving schools career advice:
- understand where and when SLTs are going out to schools – survey
- developing materials and resources for people to use in promotion, school events and other promotion opportunities – models/swallowing sweets/comms boards/interactive/comms games/payment from HEE?
- RCSLT branded packs for different event situations
- project to link school curricula and different age stages, for example, A-Level, GCSE, primary, to SLT – project with LSU school.
Promoting ideas for shadowing/work experience. Encouraging SLTs to offer them to minority SLT groups, given the difficulty of securing them.
Encouraging/facilitating taster days – tips for organising an example day. Admissions group suggestion of e-learning/MOOK around speech and language therapy taster modules.
- Look at careers apps and how they tag SLT – algorithms
- Mainstreaming in the media – stories in media/ soaps
Projects about student networks
- Workshop proposal new national SLT student network (hosted by RCSLT).
- Developing the proposal, aims and scope.
- Taking in to account the RCSLT student survey results.
Projects about images/videos of SLT
Generating more images and videos of SLT to use in careers promotion:
- More diverse mix of people
- Better range of roles
- Benefits of an SLT career clearer
Develop templates for consents required and what formats to use.
Develop a Google form template for SLTs to contribute their story and give their consent.
The information could then be used flexibly to present the information in different ways.
Schools outreach project
Have you ever considered offering to do a schools careers event?
There are 3,500 secondary schools and approximately 12,000 SLTs in England. If every SLT offered a careers talk to a secondary school once every three years, we could reach every school in England.
- Improved visibility of speech and language therapy as a career choice.
- Increased interest in speech and language therapy as a profession.
- Increased diversity of the speech and language therapy student population.
The research available suggests that there is a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status within the speech and language profession.
Contributing factors for this include:
- lack of profile of the profession, especially among boys
- misconceptions about what SLTs do
- status of the profession
- lack of understanding that it is a degree level profession.
We hope that a large number of SLTs in the regional Hubs and students in universities can commit a limited amount of time to help promote their profession.
We can create a shareable spreadsheet for each local area that lists all the secondary schools and their websites and head teacher details (this is available publicly from gov.uk).
We recommend that two to four SLTs, students or assistants manage the emailing of schools and allocation of events to SLTs. Where schools accept, allocate an SLT, a student SLT or both to attend.
We need to reach a wide range of schools, including schools in areas with low participation rates for HE.
We envisage targeting pupils in year 12, who might want to attend university in the summer/autumn of each year. We only need to target schools with sixth forms and not, for example, specialist maths or engineering colleges.
A basic toolkit to prepare for an event is available in the careers guide section.
The gender diversity working group was formed following the RCSLT workshop, Towards a diverse profession, in June 2019.
The group considered the issues raised at the workshop and decided to focus in three areas:
1. Understanding and addressing perceptions about male SLTs
- Understanding what are the characteristics of SLTs and how these appeal to men (and women)
- Projects to build a library of stories about the journey of male SLTs, their motivations, experience and aspirations.
- Developing a more nuanced approach to targeting potential students using language and images that embrace diversity but do not give a misleading picture.Understanding how careers apps/programmes select careers suggestions and checking whether these are gendered.
2. Developing support networks
- Defining the parameters of a male support network.
- Is there a role for a gender diversity discussion forum?
- How could they be set up, run and monitored?
3. Experience of the working and student environment for men
- What impact of feminised culture and/or language?
- What perceptions are there of a glass elevator for men in the workplace and is there evidence to support it?
- Is there bias or discrimination and how is it dealt with?
- Collecting experiences on placement – positive and negative.
- Explore why the male student leaver rate appears higher than the female rate.
2020 survey results
The group ran a survey at the start of 2020 to address the first of these areas. The aim was to better understand how the profession appeals to men and the implications for marketing approaches that might encourage more male applications to speech and language therapy courses.
The headline results were:
- 80% of male SLTs who responded started studying for their degree age 21 or over and 46% were over the age of 26.
- Finding out about the profession was overwhelmingly a result of personal experience in family, working life or education.
- Male SLTs decided to join the profession because of their attraction to the mix of skills around health, medicine and communication and wanting a more altruistic profession.
- Significant barriers to entry existed around lack of role models, feminine profession culture and lack of pay and status.
- Some, but not all, men found there was a ceiling at NHS pay band 7.
- Male SLTs are interested in all types of SLT roles, not only those in academia or management.
Download a summary of the survey results as an infographic (PDF).
The group will be undertaking some further follow-up work to try to identify whether mature students would have entered the profession earlier, had they known about it earlier.
Join the gender group
If you’re interested in joining the gender group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Open to SLTs and students
- No prior experience required
- Meetings are held 3 to 4 times a year
- Get involved in projects as much as you are able
In June 2019, the RCSLT held a workshop Towards a diverse profession. The discussion resulted in many comments and ideas.
Download a detailed write-up of the discussions (PDF).
An ethnicity working group was formed after the workshop. The group helped RCSLT with considering the ideas and forming them into focus areas for action and planned projects.
The plans are set out below. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant a pause taking them forward in the timescales that were originally planned.
Proposed focus areas:
- Racism, unconscious bias and microaggressions
- Role of BAME networks
- Workplace experience for SLTs and student SLTs
- Supporting cultural awareness
Projects about the experience of racism, unconscious bias and microaggressions
- Embedding projects across the focus areas – highlighted in green text.
- Important to have overview data on the ethnicity of SLTs, broken down by band where relevant to inform policy development.
- Unconscious bias and microaggressions – are SLTs and students doing online training? Trusts/HEIs have training already – is there a culture to support in practice?
Projects about the role for BAME networks
- Scoping the possible aims and structure of a BAME support network and/or a network that will support open discussion of issues.
Projects about the workplace experience for SLTs and student SLTs – start date mid 2020?
- Project to promote buy-in from managers supporting clinicians from different ethnic backgrounds? Highlighting impact of microaggressions?
- Developing more shadowing/experience opportunities for BAME young people – create a sheet of wider variety of pointers of where to find shadowing – eg care homes, schools.
- Projects to develop better representation in SLT media – developing images that are more representative.
- Projects to showcase in the RCSLT diversity month 2020 – July
Projects to support better cultural awareness
- Interpreting RCSLT curriculum guidance around cultural learning/teach authentically about working with different cultures eg DMU project
- Better resources – finding out about availability of phonetics in other languages?
- Consider scope of champions/mentors role? What would a champion offer? How would they be selected?
- Resources for schools/community presentations – should they be different for different ethnic groups?
- Should SLTs reach out to talk to parents in communities? Create a flyer eg trial in libraries.
Wider aspects of diversity
Wider aspects of diversity: proposed focus areas:
- Promotion across the protected characteristics
Careers promotion across nine protected characteristics
- Access to open days – travel to uni open days and interview a real issue for those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and with disabilities.
- Could more be online, not just generic university videos, but SLT specific ones. Film SLT talks and put them online.
- Is there any funding support for interview days?
- Education around protected characteristics – gather information about how and if it is taught in the curriculum to ensure all students see themselves represented.
- Culture of the profession – an inclusive profession – this area will be taken forward via the profession culture working group.
Projects about disability
- Develop a disability network/group
- RCSLT disability guidance – scope whether it needs updating. Identifying the barriers
- Developing role models and publicising via podcasts/ Bulletin
- Mental health and invisible disabilities – issues identified in statistics around SLT student mental health – scope issues and how to empower people to talk and provide a safe space.
Projects looking to address socio-economic diversity
- Being prepared for a job interview – develop tips for preparing – link to leadership mentors?
- Work experience/ shadowing – overcoming the barrier of no contacts in SLT for disadvantaged groups
- Improved information about where and how to look.
- Work experience cover letters/ templates
- Identifying non traditional routes to the profession eg ex service personnel/ community groups/ career changers. Map how to reach those groups.
- Does careers promotion to disadvantaged groups need a different approach or different materials?