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Speech and language therapy services to education in England and Wales

By Geoff Lindsay, N. Soloff, J. Law, S. Band, N. Peacey, M. Gascoigne and J. Radford


Services for children with speech and language needs in England and Wales are in a period of change. The context is subject to major systemic pressures deriving from government policies. These include the development of inclusive education and encouragement of multiprofessional collaboration in policy development and practice ('joined up thinking'). In addition, structures at local level are changing with the establishment of unitary authorities and the change from Health Trusts to Primary Care Trusts. Professional practice is also changing with a shift from clinical to community settings for speech and language therapists working with children. The present study reports on a survey sponsored by the Department for Education and Employment, Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly to identify the nature of speech and language therapy (SLT) services provided to education in England and Wales. The sample comprised all SLT service managers (n = 133, response rate 74%). The results indicate that services vary greatly in size and in their SLT: child ratio, with a mean of one SLT to 4257 child population. The caseload was highest for the 5-10 age group, and service delivery was targeted at these children, with low levels of work with secondary aged pupils. Most provision in educational settings was made to mainstream schools, but the provision of SLT time per child was substantially higher in specialist language resources. Apart from the preschool phase, most SLT provision was for children with statements of special educational needs. Prioritization of service delivery was usually by severity of need. The provision of bilingual SLT services was very limited, with only 14.0 full-time equivalents SLTs fluent in a community language, other than Welsh, where proportionately availability was much greater. Most LEAs funded SLT posts, although these were usually employed as part of the SLT service, with only about 10% of LEAs employing SLTs direct. However, 55.5% of SLT managers reported that recruitment and retention were problematic, resulting in gaps in the service. These findings are discussed with respect to changes driven by professional judgements on the nature of optimal service delivery, and government policy, with particular reference to inclusion and equity of service delivery

Topics: P, RM
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Year: 2002
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