England policy

England policy

Children and young people

Find out more about our policy work relating to children and young people in England.

Bercow: Ten Years On

In response to concerns about the support for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and major changes in the education and health systems, I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) have undertaken an independent review of provision for children with SLCN in England.

Since the first call for evidence in January 2017, we have heard from more than 2,500 people including children and young people; their parents and carers; practitioners, and other key stakeholders.

The report, published on 20 March 2018, brings together the outputs of the review and includes strong recommendations to government and local leaders.

Find out more and read the report at: www.bercow10yearson.com


Bercow: Ten Years On marks a decade since the publication of The Bercow Report: A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

Read the original Bercow report (PDF)

If you have any questions about Bercow: Ten Years On, please contact us.

Read the Six month progress report (PDF)

Learn more about Parliamentary mentions of speech, language and communication needs between March 2018 and June 2019 (PDF)

The Bercow Report, 2008

The Bercow review was published in July 2008 as the result of an independent cross-government review chaired by John Bercow, MP and RCSLT vice-president.

The report, entitled the Bercow review of services for children and young people (ages 0-19) with speech, language and communication needs, was the culmination of a major consultation process. It included a questionnaire which received over 2,000 responses, meetings with groups of parents and visits to children’s centres, nurseries, primary and secondary schools across England.

The final report followed the submission of an interim report in March 2008. The RCSLT worked closely with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and Mr Bercow to support and contribute to the review.

The report set out 40 recommendations to improve services, and the Government launched its response to the review on 17 December 2008.

The response, Better Communication: An action plan to improve services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), accepted many of the review’s recommendations.

The action plan contained a range of initiatives to improve services for children and young people with SLCN, and understanding across the whole children’s workforce of the importance of speech, language and communication.

Many initiatives are integrated within mainstream programmes and projects, to ensure all services understand the importance of supporting children with SLCN.

A decade later, the RCSLT has published Bercow: Ten Years On.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms

The SEND reforms were the theme of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Speech and Language Difficulties meeting on 21 February 2017.

Derek Munn, RCSLT’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, gave a presentation on RCSLT’s SEND reforms report (PDF).

RCSLT presentation

RCSLT’s presentation (PDF) highlighted the findings of the report, its policy calls and what it is going to do to help address some of the issues. Nick Smith MP has asked a written question on the report. During the meeting:

For more information, please contact us.

Children and young people’s mental health



Community rehabilitation

RCSLT is part of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance which includes national charities and professional bodies who are all committed to improving commissioning, planning and delivery of rehabilitation.

In May 2020, the RCSLT submitted evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry ‘Delivering core NHS and care services during the pandemic and beyond’ – Read the RCSLT’s evidence (PDF).

Mental health

The RCSLT is prioritising mental health work across children and adults for 2020. This directly links to our mission of enabling better lives for people with communication and swallowing needs.

The RCSLT’s stroke policy

Influencing stroke policy

On 10 May 2016, the RCSLT invited speech and language therapy stroke leads from 50 services across England to the RCSLT stroke study day to discuss how their service records data in SSNAP and to discuss the draft fifth edition of the stroke clinical guidelines. The stroke study day was supported by Sue Pownall and Rosemary Cunningham, the RCSLT representatives for the Royal College of Physicians.

RCSLT stroke study day 2018

The RCSLT held a stroke study day ‘Continuing Improvement in Stroke Care – The way forward’ on Friday 27 April 2018 at RCSLT London.

Aims and objectives

It was our aim that delegates would:

  • Find out how SLTs should record data for the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP)
  • Learn how to interpret SSNAP data
  • Understand how to improve SSNAP scores
  • Be able to apply SSNAP data work for Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) and use it to grow services
  • Have the chance to discuss the latest guidance in stroke and the impact on SLT services

Top five therapy questions on SSNAP.

NICE Stroke rehabilitation in adults

Supporting guidelines and resources

RCSLT’s stroke campaign calls

During the RCSLT stroke campaign we called for:

  • One in 10: in an acute ward there must be one speech and language therapist for every 10 people who have had a stroke
  • A communication lifeline: every stroke survivor must have prompt referral to speech and language therapy to allow rapid development of methods of communication in the immediate days following their stroke
  • Community service: every community stroke team must have at least one speech and language therapist

Please contact us for more information.

Key messages

  • Speech, language and communication difficulties can cause a significant barrier to accessing work support services.
  • Services which aim to provide access to welfare, support people into work and / or retain people in work must mainstream inclusive communication approaches throughout their procedures.
  • All information on services must be communication accessible.
  • Front line staff should be trained and provided with resources to be able to identify and adapt their own communication to the needs of people with speech, language and communication needs.

Improving lives: The Work, health and disability green paper

The joint Department of Health and Department for Work and Pensions green paper was published in October 2016. The Government’s aim was to improve the links between health services and employment support and to close the disability employment gap.

The RCSLT response to the “Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper”

In our response (PDF) we highlighted the lack of acknowledgement of communication disability and the challenge this presents to people with communication impairments in both entering work and remaining in work.

The RCSLT successfully lobbying the Government to include two case studies within the Green Paper to demonstrate the effectiveness of speech and language therapy in rehabilitation: ‘Anita’ is featured on page 20; while ‘Robert’s’ case study appears on page 71.

Read the Bulletin, April 2017 article (PDF) discussing our response

The Council for Work and Health

The Council for Work and Health was established in 2008 as part of the Government’s response to Dame Carol Black’s 2008 report “Working for a healthier tomorrow.” The Council comprises the professional bodies which represent those engaged in the delivery of health and wellbeing, and occupational health services, as well as others supporting work and health. The RCSLT is delighted to be a member. The Council provides an authoritative and representative “single voice” on health and wellbeing issues.

AHP Advisory Fitness for Work Report

The Allied Health Professions (AHP) Advisory Fitness for Work Report is an A4 form which provides an employee, their employer and GP with information on the employee’s reported problem and to help keep that employee in or return to work following illness, injury or recovery from treatment.

Support for speech and language therapy services

What are the workforce priorities for AHPs in England’s mental health services

Health Education England (HEE) have commissioned a rapid research project to explore and understand what AHPs believe are our top workforce issues and priorities for mental health. HEE want to use this information help inform the development of future policy both in the short and longer term. The RCOT has been invited to lead this important project, which will be delivered in collaboration with BAAT and Clever Together and all the AHP Royal Colleges /AHP professional bodies have been invited to get involved.

A report will be produced for HEE’s internal use and will provide them with guidance to write public responses or position papers about its intentions and plans.

The RCSLT wants to influence the future SLT workforce, so please get in touch to get involved with this exciting mental health project.

Other work we are involved with

  • Engaging with HEE to inform the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
  • Engaging with NHS Improvement on their mental health work contributing to the Five Year Forward View.
  • Discussions with NHS Benchmarking on data collection and input/outputs.
  • Engaging and responding to relevant NICE guidelines and quality standards.
  • Influencing government-led initiatives: planning for mental capacity legislation this Summer and mental health legislation later in 2018/19 and the Independent Review of Mental Health Act.
  • Representation at groups and committees including Senior Mental Health Leaders Seminar.


Please contact us to get involved.

Briefings, responses and statements

Follow our work on policy and campaigns. For material relating to the devolved nations, please see our pages for ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.


Appreciation of Lord Ramsbotham 

The appreciation details the many years of tireless support Lord Ramsbotham gave the speech and language therapy profession as the RCSLTs Honorary Life Vice-President.

2024 briefings

2023 briefings

2022 briefings

2021 briefings

2020 briefing

2019 briefings

2018 briefings

2017 briefings


Consultation responses

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs)

Read the RCSLT factsheet on how speech and language therapy services are integral to the delivery of sustainability and transformation plan goals (PDF). It can be printed on A3 paper and folded into an A4 booklet.

Read how to influence the Sustainable Transformation Plan (STP) development in your area (PDF)

Read the briefing on STPs from the Kings Fund

RCSLT factsheets

Take a look at Speech and language therapy factsheets

Key policy issues

Find out more about workforce planning


Please contact us to get involved.

Campaigns and projects

  • RCSLT new SEND report January 2017 (PDF) – The RCSLT is calling on the government to guarantee that local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), commission speech and language therapy services for children and young people as many are not getting the support they need.
  • Bercow: ten years on – In response to concerns about the support for children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and major changes in the education and health system, I CAN, children’s communication charity and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) are undertaking a national review of support for children with SLCN in England.
  • Student funding reforms – The RCSLT has worked closely with staff in higher education institutions on our consultation response, using the findings of our student survey and direct member feedback to inform our policy position on the reforms.
  • Giving Voice –  The campaign aims to ‘give voice’ to people with speech, language and communication needs – to ensure their needs, and those of their carers and families, are met. We equip our members to demonstrate locally how speech and language therapy makes a difference to individuals and society, while RCSLT officers work to engage decision makers and the media at a national level. Contact us

For further information about our work in the UK Parliament, please contact us.

APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties

The RCSLT provides the secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Speech and Language Difficulties. The Group was launched in 2007 and aims to:

  • Make parliament aware that the ability to communicate is a crucial life skill for all.
  • Increase awareness about the impact communication difficulties have on people’s lives.
  • Highlight the importance of early identification and intervention.
  • Press for increased provision of speech and language therapy items.

There is more information about the APPG on the parliament website.

Officers of the Group:

  • Chair: Geraint Davies MP
  • Co-Chair: Lord Ramsbotham
  • Vice-Chairs: Peter Aldous MP, Steve McCabe MP, Lord Shinkwin, Baroness Whitaker

Secretariat contact

Please contact us and we will be happy to help with any queries about the APPG.

Meetings of the APPG on speech and language difficulties

The APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties will hold its AGM on Tuesday 16 May, in Room M, PCH, 17:00-18:00.

APPG on Speech and Language Difficulties meeting – Monday 11 July 4pm-5pm
Professor Courtenay Norbury will be a presenting to a virtual meeting on the latest research into Developmental Language Disorder and what needs to happen to better children and young people with the condition. For more information, contact peter.just@rcslt.org.

Learn more about the APPG on speech and language difficulties meetings.

Inquiry into the links between speech, language and communication needs and social disadvantage

In 2012, the Group undertook an inquiry into the links between speech, language and communications and social disadvantage.


Ahead of the 2021 Budget, Geraint Davies MP co-ordinated a letter from 20 All-Party Parliamentary Groups to the Prime Minister and Chancellor. The letter calls on the Government to improve support for people with communication and swallowing needs, including through increasing access to and funding for speech and language therapy.


Consultation responses

Integrated Care Systems

Integrated care systems (ICSs) are partnerships of organisations that work collectively to plan and deliver joined up health and care services which meet the needs of people who live and work in their area. ICSs aim to improve healthcare outcomes, tackle inequalities, enhance productivity and value for money, and help the NHS to support broader social and economic development.

The development of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) provides an opportunity for speech and language therapists to influence the development and direction of new structures, plans and priorities.

By making connections with the right leaders in your local system, sharing the evidence base and convincing them that speech and language therapy can help them to deliver on their priorities, you could make a real difference to the services that are available for the people in your local area.

You can find more information about ICSs, along with resources you can use to support your local influencing, below.


To support the speech and language therapy role in ICSs, the RCSLT has developed information for SLTs, outlining what ICSs are, how AHPs are represented, and how you can get involved in your local ICS.

Download Integrated Care Systems: What SLTs Need to Know (PDF)

We have developed information for AHP Leads, which details the roles of SLTs and how they support the strategic purposes of integrated care and the national NHS objectives 2023-2024

Download Delivering Integrated Care: How Speech and Language Therapy Can Help (PDF)

During the passage of the Health and Care Act we were part of a coalition that helped to secure a higher priority for children and young people in ICSs. Find out what these new duties mean in practice, and how you can get involved.

Download What does the Health and Care Act 2022 mean for children and young people? (PDF)

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