Decisions on interventions for children and young people with SLCN should be based on the best evidence available. Commissioners, policy makers and practitioners need access to a sound evidence base and in a form that is accessible and meets their needs. Well conducted studies reported in research reports and journals provide the main and best quality evidence base. There is also emerging evidence of new practices which may not yet have been fully studied or of small scale studies, perhaps by practitioners. This evidence is consequently less secure but of interest nevertheless.
The aim of this project is to improve the evidence base available to commissioners, policy makers and practitioners in developing services for children and young people with SLCN by:
· Understanding the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of different interventions used to support children and young people with SLCN
· Understanding the factors that influence their effectiveness and efficiency including locational issues (mainstream, integrated units and resources, special schools), pedagogical issues (specific programmes for specific needs), organisational issues (nature and deployment of support services, use of data informed developments), and employer based interactions (training, consultancy work, direct teaching or therapy).
Following the Bercow Review’s wide-ranging conceptualization of SLCN this project will address interventions for all children and young people with SLCN who may have different primary needs, including primary language difficulties, autistic spectrum disorders, hearing impairment or more general learning difficulties, physical impairments and some children and young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.
The project comprises two strands.
This comprises a review of the research literature focusing, primarily, on that published in research journals and research reports but also including other publications.
In this strand we have explored evidence from practice.
During the first phase of this strand, interviews were carried out with senior speech and language therapists, educational psychologists and advisory teachers in 14 local authorities/health care trusts. This identified a key difference in practice between health and education, specifically differences in categorisation of SLCN (by impairment versus need). A wide range of interventions were reported as being used with the whole population of children with SLCN. In many cases, the same intervention was used across client groups. Interventions were varied and ranged from published resources or programmes through to specific intervention activities for individual and small group work and then strategies or approaches to use in all interactions with a child.
The second phase of this strand consisted of a national survey circulated to speech and language therapists via their national body, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. This survey asked respondents to identify the most typical child on their caseload in terms of age, need/impairment and setting (school, home, hospital). Respondents were then asked to indicate what interventions they used with this child and how they delivered this intervention. The data from this survey is currently being analysed and written up.
The evidence for both strands is currently being analysed and collated. The findings will be published on this website and in reports and peer reviewed journals. In addition, a database describing the most frequently used interventions (as identified in strand 2) and the evidence to support them (from strand 1) will be developed and will function as a tool for practitioners and commissioners working with children with SLCN.