Bob Reitemeier

What’s next for Bercow: Ten Year On

I CAN’s Chief Executive, Bob Reitemeier, explains the ‘next steps’ as we begin to illustrate the reality facing children with SLCN and their families.

Bercow: Ten Years On is an independent review of the state of provision for children’s speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) being carried out by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. The end of the summer term marked a significant milestone in the review – for we have now closed the on-line evidence-gathering phase of the project.

This process has been extensive, as we targeted a wide range of key stakeholders. It’s wonderful that the response to our calls for evidence and requests to participate has been overwhelming  – more than 2,500 responses have been collected, far greater than we could have hoped – showing the depth of feeling and concern around the support available for children and young people with SLCN. We sought information in a number of ways from a variety of audiences including: practitioners, parents and carers, children and young people, commissioners and employers.

The information we gained has enabled us to build a detailed understanding of the reality facing both those needing and those offering support for children and young people with SLCN. Unfortunately, whilst we have heard some heartening examples of positive practice and strong leadership it’s increasingly clear that the situation remains challenging for so many…

One final evidence seminar, hosted by The Nuffield Foundation, will focus on the link between language and social disadvantage.  Invited guests will help us understand how to improve communication support to some of the most marginalised children in the country.  Our final report will not only identify where there is high-quality support in place, but will also provide recommendations on how this can be replicated using core principles that can be applied regardless of individual circumstances.

What’s next for Bercow: Ten Year On?  There remains much to do!  We continue to analyse the enormous amount of data we’ve collected, in order to identify recurring themes, which will lead us to a set of recommendations.  Some of the initial themes emerging from the analysis include critical issues such as targeted support to the children’s workforce, collaborative working, identification of SLCN, and clear training and information needs. We plan to test out recommendations in a number of ways including a set of ‘deep dives’; detailed conversations in local areas, and gaining an understanding of what the recommendations need to look like for those delivering and receiving speech, language and communication services.

Alongside this next phase of work, we will be continuing to speak to policy makers and influencers in both local and national government. In our conversations we’ll highlight the crucial nature of speech, language and communication for learning and for later life success. We will emphasise the impact for children of not receiving the right support at the right time. The rich evidence gathered as part of Bercow: Ten Years On will enable us to illustrate the reality facing those children with SLCN and their families on a daily basis, and identify what is needed to really improve their outcomes.