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I CAN responds to Graham Allen’s Early Intervention Report

As the children’s communication charity, I CAN welcomes Graham Allen’s focus on speech and language as part of early intervention. I CAN believes that improving communication is key to achieving the report’s recommendations and should be at the heart of implementation.

Virginia Beardshaw, I CAN Chief Executive, welcomes the Graham Allen Early Intervention report and said:

"As the children's communication charity, I CAN welcomes Graham Allen's focus on speech and language as part of early intervention. I CAN believes that improving communication is key to achieving the report's recommendations and should be at the heart of implementation.

"Communication is the most essential and fundamental life skill, and forms the basis on which all children learn and achieve. Yet more than 1 million children have long-term, persistent Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) which need specialist help. In some parts of the UK – particularly in areas of social disadvantage - 50% of children start school with delayed language.

"Without the right help, children with communication difficulties are unlikely to reach their academic potential. They become isolated and frustrated - risking poor behaviour, mental health issues and offending. These children need their difficulties to be identified and to receive timely support if they are to break the cycle of exclusion and to catch up with their peers.

"The report rightly focuses on the importance of parent/child attachment for healthy development. Communication is at the core of this attachment, and from a baby's first day creates the secure social and emotional bonds children need.

"Vocabulary at age 5 is the best predictor of whether children who have experienced social deprivation in childhood are able to escape poverty in later adult life. Yet many parents and some professionals lack understanding about how best to support children's communication development and how to spot problems.

"To protect the most vulnerable, the government must endorse tried and tested early identification models. Every Child A Talker, a government sponsored programme, has been shown to be highly effective and should be implemented in all early years' settings. Screening children for speech and language delays at two years and at five years old, is also key to identifying children who need support in order to provide targeted help which may reduce the need for future interventions. I CAN's Early Talk programmes help staff and health practitioners to improve their skills to better support children and parents in preparing for school.

Beardshaw concludes: "The good news is that children can always improve their language skills. We look forward to the government's response to the report and its recommendations."


Notes to editors:

For more information, pictures or to arrange an interview with Chief Executive Virginia Beardshaw, please contact Priya Shah, Press and PR Manager on 0207 843 2542 or email

About I CAN

  • I CAN is the children's communication charity.
  • We are here to ensure that no child is left out or left behind because of a difficulty speaking or understanding.
  • Nobody wants a child's potential to be wasted. It happens because communication difficulties are not visible, often mistaken for something else, or not noticed at all.
  • I CAN's mission is to make sure that everyone in contact with children knows how important communication is, what a communication difficulty looks like and what they can do to help.
  • We do this through:
    • Increasing public awareness of the problems children face.
    • Giving expert advice to parents and families about what to look out for and what to do.
    • Providing assessments for children so that their families know what support will meet their needs.
    • Giving teachers and people working with children the skills to help children who struggle.
    • Campaigning to ensure children and families get a better deal.
    • At the very heart of I CAN are our special schools which give expert care and education to children with problems so severe their needs cannot be met elsewhere.