I CAN welcomes the report of the Expert Panel on the National Curriculum

This week, the Expert Panel reviewing the National Curriculum published their report detailing its conclusions and recommendations.

We have welcomed the report of the Expert Panel which states clearly that oral language skills should be a strong feature of any new National Curriculum because of the links between language and attainment.

I CAN and our coalition partners in The Communication Trust have long called for speech, language and communication skills to be at the heart of the curriculum, and for all children and young people with speech, language and communication needs to have opportunities to acquire skills that will support their learning.

I CAN believes that a focus on language and communication in education is crucial for all children. Spoken and written language are the predominant ‘tools’ used in teaching and learning, as well as being a key part of the curriculum themselves. Spoken language is the basis for literacy development. Studies have shown that children who have difficulty with language and communication are more likely to have later academic, social and emotional difficulties.

 In particular I CAN welcomes the recommendations of the Expert Panel that:

  • any new curriculum should promote language as an integral feature of all subjects, as well  as being featured in the National Curriculum for English
  • language work across the curriculum should continue throughout  education, rather than be limited to the Early Years Foundation Stage and at Key Stage 1
  • improved language should be made a priority by an overarching statement, within the English programme of study and the programmes of study for all core and foundation subjects.

Around 10% of all children have long term Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN). In areas of social deprivation, more than 50% of children are starting school without the language skills that are needed for learning.  These groups of children do not have the language skills necessary to access the curriculum, and it is essential that any new curriculum takes this into account and provides opportunities to ensure these pupils learn and make the best progress possible.  

Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN Chief Executive said:

The Expert Panel’s strong stance on the importance of oral language throughout the curriculum brings the Hello campaign –the 2011 National Year of Communication –  to a very positive conclusion. Jean Gross, the Government’s Communication Champion has strongly promoted the link between communication skills and attainment and the Expert Panel’s recommendations reflect her key contribution. 

As the report recognises, speech and language capabilities are strong predictors of employability as well as attainment. With mounting evidence that employers struggle to recruit school leavers with good communication and interpersonal skills, the opportunity to develop these skills at school will help to improve the life chances of our young people. ”