28 February 2023

The ‘Cracks in our foundations’ report highlights the important role of speech and communication skills in primary school children’s education

The Centre for Social Justice has recently published a new report – ‘Cracks in our foundations’ – focussing on addressing the longstanding attainment gap in England’s primary schools.

Polling for the report found:

  • two-thirds of primary school teachers said a lack of support for children with speech, language and communication needs was the biggest barrier to pupils gaining expected levels in foundational skills post-pandemic. This concern was especially prevalent in areas of higher deprivation and in schools rated below Outstanding
  • 68% of head teachers use a local NHS or out-of- school speech therapist service for speech and language support in their school, often with a long waiting list, and only 15% of teachers say there is an in-school speech and language therapist for pupils to access
  • four-in-five teachers say that demand for speech and language needs support has increased post pandemic. The majority of teachers and headteachers say they cannot meet this demand with current provision, and just 8 per cent of teachers said their school had a clear plan on how to meet this demand.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists is pleased to have been able to input into the report, and that ‘Cracks in our foundations’  highlights our concerns about resourcing for (and access to) speech and language therapy in different areas.


We especially welcome the report’s:

  • recommendations that the Department for Education should: outline plans to enable primary school teachers to better identify and provide support for SEND in the classroom; provide training for teachers identifying and supporting SEND in the classroom; map cold spots of SEND support provision, such as the availability of speech and language therapists
  • recognition that oracy is a foundational skill and its recommendation that the Department for Education should put oracy education on an equal footing with literacy and numeracy by introducing oracy in the National Curriculum and piloting new Oracy Hubs, in the style of English and Maths Hubs
  • reference to RCSLT’s, Speech and Language UK and Voice 21 briefing on spoken language
  • recognition of the impact of language skills on educational attainment, as well as employment, mental health and risk of involvement in the justice system and impact of the pandemic on speech, language and communication development.