Almost 70% of teachers believe the children they teach are behind with their speaking and/ or understanding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a children’s communication charity has warned.
A new survey of teachers published by I CAN suggests that an estimated 1.5 million children and young people are at risk of being left behind, as they struggle to speak and understand language.
Jane Harris, I CAN Chief Executive said: “Children and young people’s development have been hit hard by this pandemic. For 1.5 million children to be struggling to be able to speak and to understand what is being said to them should be a wake-up call to government and the education sector. We need to put in place emergency support so that the COVID generation do not suffer long-term.
“Our survey shows that teachers in the classroom are not able to support the children who need their help because the support the government is offering are only for 4- and 5-year-olds. We need an education recovery plan that helps children of all ages to speak and understand language. Without this, how can they learn other subjects, get a job or have decent mental health and relationships?”
The survey asked primary and secondary school teachers across England, Scotland, and Wales about the impact COVID-19 has had on their pupils speaking and understanding.
This breaks down as follows:
Most teachers were critical of the government’s efforts, despite them introducing a recovery premium to support children and young people to catch up with their education after missing nearly half a year from the classroom. More than 60% of teachers surveyed said the UK government is not providing enough support to help children with their speaking and understanding.
The survey concluded by asking teachers what training they had received to support children struggling with their speaking and understanding at the below stages of their training/ career:
The report recommends the government urgently extends the speech and language help provided to Reception classes to all ages. Teacher training should be improved on speech and language and assessing children in speaking and understanding language as regularly as other skills such as writing, reading and arithmetic.