22 March 2023

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has submitted evidence to the Education Committee’s inquiry on Support for Childcare and the Early Years and called for action on workforce issues impacting the ability of the early years system to support the development of children’s speech, language and communication skills.

The early years workforce has a crucial role to play in supporting the development of these skills. Our members – speech and language therapists who work closely with these settings – report that there are significant challenges around the recruitment and retention of qualified staff which is impacting their ability to provide this support.

There are also significant workforce challenges in professions which work closely with early years provisions, including health visiting and speech and language therapy.

The submission also highlights:

  • The impact of workforce challenges on the ability of early years settings to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN);
  • The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on both the workforce, and on children’s development.
  • The impact that the closure of Sure Start Children’s Centres has had on children and families, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • In order for the Family Hubs programme to fulfil its potential it will need a more ambitious scope, adequate long term funding, and a serious, integrated plan for the whole children’s workforce.

Read our response in full.