You may remember that in September John Bercow and Patrick Mercer had agreed to advise the government on learning difficulties in children, and security issues respectively. Mercer discontinued his role after a month but Bercow has published an extensive report today that has been welcomed by both the Government and the Conservatives. Download full report
/ report summary
It states that up to 50% of children in some areas of Britain are growing up with significant speech, language and communication needs, and that without getting sufficient help to develop their communication skills children are at risk of "lower educational attainment; behavioural problems; emotional and psychological difficulties; poor employment prospects, challenges to mental health and, in some cases, a descent into criminality".
Ed Balls and Alan Johnson have pledged £12m to implement his recommendations to address this problem, and a further £40m to support those who work on early language development. Shadow Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:
"We welcome this thorough report, which contains a number of excellent recommendations. We are particularly concerned about the variability of services in different areas highlighted in the report. It confirms our view that special schools, with all their expertise in helping children with particular needs, should not be closed as part of a rush to inclusion."