4 May 2023

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has submitted evidence to the Education Committee’s inquiry into persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils.

The evidence highlights the correlation between pupils who are more likely to have persistent and severe absence, and the prevalence of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

The submission provides evidence that the following groups of children and young people are more likely to be persistently absent, and have SLCN:

  • pupils in areas of socio-economic disadvantage
  • pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • pupils in alternative provision or at risk of exclusion
  • pupils in touch with social care services.

The submission also highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on both absence from school, and on children’s speech, language and communication development.

What needs to change
Given the evidence included in the submission, measures to improve attendance must include:

  • equipping education staff with the knowledge and skills to identify and support children with speech, language and communication needs.
  • ensuring that pupils who are more likely to have persistent and severe absence are able to get the support they need from specialist professionals, such as speech and language therapists.

Read our full submission submitted to parliament here.