8 February 2024

The RCSLT is helping to lead the #LetsTalkCommunication coalition, which is calling for spoken language and communication to be at the heart of parties’ 2024 election manifestos 

Ahead of the General Election, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), Speech and Language UK, and Voice 21 have brought together a coalition of over 50 organisations to send open letters to Conservative leader Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey. 

The #LetsTalkCommunication coalition is calling on the three leaders to ensure that their parties’ manifestos reflect the importance of supporting children and young people’s spoken language and communication development by: 

  • recognising that spoken language and communication is at the heart of developing and improving literacy and numeracy, as well as fundamental to children’s emotional development and mental health 
  • building on efforts to develop all children’s language and communication in the Early Years by a sustained focus on spoken language and communication across all ages and stages of education   
  • ensuring children and young people with long-term speech and language challenges receive the support they need, including identifying those difficulties in the first instance, and timely access to speech and language therapy where required  
  • supporting teachers and schools to develop their students’ spoken language and communication, and embed spoken language and communication requirements through high quality guidance, training and resources 
  • providing additional targeted support to address the ongoing impact of the pandemic on children’s speech, language and communication development.  

An accompanying briefing illustrates that the #LetsTalkCommunication coalition takes a broad and inclusive definition of spoken language and communication. We are not reflecting on or seeking to change diversity of speech, communication or voices, but to promote spoken language effectiveness. We are also talking about supporting children and young people who communicate differently or with difficulty, including those with speech, language and communication needs. This includes those who speak using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and sign languages, such as British Sign Language. 

The organisations who have signed the letters are: 

  • Ace Centre
  • Action Cerebral Palsy
  • Action for Stammering Children
  • ADHD Foundation – The Neurodiversity Charity
  • Afasic
  • Ambitious about Autism
  • ASLTIP (Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice)
  • Association of YOT Managers
  • Auditory Verbal UK
  • Autistica
  • BACCH (British Association for Community Child Health)
  • BACD (British Academy of Childhood Disability)
  • BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
  • BATOD (British Association of Teachers of Deaf Children and Young People)
  • Better Communication CIC
  • British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
  • British Dyslexia Association
  • British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • CICS Group (Cochlear Implanted Children’s Support Group)
  • Different Strokes
  • Dingley’s Promise
  • Disabled Children’s Partnership
  • Down’s Syndrome Association
  • Elklan
  • Embracing Complexity Coalition
  • Headlines Craniofacial Support
  • Intermediaries for Justice
  • Kids
  • NASS (National Association of Special Schools)
  • NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union
  • NatSIP (National Sensory Impairment Partnership)
  • NDTi (National Development Team for Inclusion)
  • Pace
  • pdnet
  • RCSLT (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists)
  • SAPHNA (School and Public Health Nurses Association)
  • sen.se
  • Signalong
  • SMiRA
  • Speaking Citizens
  • Special Needs Jungle
  • Speech & Language Link
  • Speech and Language UK
  • Speech Bubbles
  • SPTS (Specialised and Personalised Training Services)
  • Symbol UK
  • Talking Mats
  • The Elizabeth Foundation
  • The National Organisation for FASD
  • Voice 21

Call to action for RCSLT members

The #LetsTalkCommunication coalition is just one part of the RCSLT’s General Election work. We will be providing updates in due course to members on how they can support our General Election activity. For now, you can do two things: 

  1. Share the briefing on social media using the #LetsTalkCommunication hashtag, saying why you think spoken language and communication matters. 
  2. If you are in contact with any local candidates or political figures, please share the briefing and the relevant letter with them, asking them to support improved spoken language and communication development for children and young people.