The number of five and six-year-olds who need speech and language support at school has risen by 10% in England over the past year, BBC analysis shows.
Experts claim the increase, which is substantially greater than in previous years, is partly due to the lockdown limiting social interactions.
Danielle Saccardi, a language expert at Preply, says it’s extremely important for optional speech therapy sessions to be offered and encouraged in primary school curriculums.
“Speech is the way language is expressed and received, and without being able to grasp the precise movement of the mouth and the way words should be pronounced, learning a language can prove extremely difficult, and limiting.
“Some pupils may struggle with spoken language, therefore schools should consider how they will identify pupils that need additional support around oral speaking.
“Identifying and helping a child who has difficulties developing skills such as comprehension, clarity, voice, fluency and sound production at an early age is extremely important.
“Therapy will safeguard and promote the welfare of children with communication and interaction needs, as well as further development of effective public speaking skills which can help with career advancement.
“It is not always easy to identify if a child has a speech impediment or difficulty with language development, especially amongst a large number of pupils.
“So whilst speech and language therapists can work directly with children, families, and other education professionals, this is an external service which is not included in the normal school curriculum.
“Therefore therapy would be obtained externally. SLT for Kids provides speech and language therapy services directly to a school or education setting.
“However, to have any sort of consultation, assessment or treatment, it is an external service therefore must be manually reached out to by a parent or school.
“Having a speech therapy service on the main curriculum would help to diagnose children at an earlier stage, ensuring they are receiving the best possible education and support for future development.”