Supporting the most vulnerable children and young people, including those with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), is a priority for us, especially at this time. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, educational settings have been asked to ensure that vulnerable children and young people can attend where appropriate.
Local authorities are responsible for their own strategic planning and have statutory requirements to offer SLCN provision where a child or young person requires it as part of their education, health and care (EHC) plan. Since May, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has been necessary to modify the duty on local authorities and health commissioners so that they could use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange the specified special educational and health care provision in EHC plans. However, we are committed to removing these flexibilities as soon as possible and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has confirmed that, unless the evidence changes, he will not be issuing further national notices to modify this duty.
We have also been working to support early language and communication development specifically. Since 2018, we have committed more than £60 million to programmes to improve early language and literacy. We will work with the sector to explore how best to continue to support children’s early development, including through the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms and the department’s Hungry Little Minds campaign, which we will continue to use to provide support for parents to develop their children’s early language and literacy.
More widely, we are ensuring that resources are available. We have announced a package worth £1 billion to ensure that schools across England have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, with extra support for those who need it most. £650 million will be spent on ensuring all pupils have the chance to catch up and supporting schools to rise to the challenge. For pupils with complex needs, we strongly encourage schools to spend this funding on catch-up support to address their individual needs, which could include speech and language therapy where appropriate. We will set out how this funding will be distributed between individual schools shortly.
We will also roll out a National Tutoring Programme, worth up to £350 million, which will deliver one-to-one tuition to the most disadvantaged young people. More details are available here:
We are providing the Oak National Academy with an additional £4.3 million to produce another 10,000 lessons over the course of the next academic year. This includes for the Oak National Academy's specialist curriculum, which includes speech and language therapy.