Early Speech and Language Development

Motion S4M-13709: Richard Simpson, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Labour
That Parliament welcomes the new report from the Read on Get on campaign; agrees that early attention to language development before entering primary school is critical; notes that, despite the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration introducing free nursery school education for three and four-year-olds and the subsequent expansion of entitlement by the SNP administration, this report states that “Scotland is still one of the most unfair countries in the developed world with family background mattering more to an individual’s life-chances in our country than in many other rich nations; notes that high levels of child poverty are associated with Scotland’s stubborn history of educational inequality, with the lottery of birth mattering more than a child’s efforts at school or their talents”; notes what it sees as the key role that speech and language therapists (SLT) play in supporting parents and the whole children’s workforce to make sure that every child achieves the best possible speech, language and communication ability; notes that the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists highlights in the report, challenges in supporting speech, language and communication in early years, arguing that there is limited understanding of the added value of SLT at strategic and operational levels an underutilisation of SLT in Scotland and ongoing funding cuts for the organisation; notes that the Health and Sport Committee’s own survey of SLT provision, in response to petition PE 1384, reported in 2013 and identified over two years an average 8.8% decrease in funding for SLT across Scotland, with over 20% cuts applied by both the NHS and local authorities in some areas, and understands that, anecdotally, this trend continues, and calls on the Scottish Government to review the workforce planning and post-graduation support for speech and language therapists to ensure that every early learning and childcare setting has access to speech and language therapy graduates, some of whom are unemployed, and to implement the recommendations of the report.