The British Association of Social Workers has called for children who have English as a second language (ESL) to be a key priority for a review of services for children with speech, language and communication difficulties.
BASW made the case for services for ESL children as the three-month initial consultation period for the government-commissioned review, chaired by Conservative MP John Bercow, ended last Friday (18 January).
Nushra Mansuri, BASW professional officer for England, said: “This issue should be high on our agendas given the changing face of the population in respect of migration and displacement issues of both unaccompanied children and children with their families newly arrived in England.”
Mansuri called on the government to reverse its decision to cut access to free ESL classes for adults, saying not to do so would severely disadvantage their children.
She also recommended that professionals, at both pre and post-qualifying levels, are given mandatory training in working with children with speech, language and communication needs.
Mansuri also called for greater co-ordination between adults and children’s services to improve the transition period for young people.
In addition, she argued that children should have improved access to augmentative communication, children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and independent advocates.
Bercow plans to publish an interim report in March, which will be followed by a further consultation period before the final report is published in July 2008.