Children’s communication charity ‘I CAN’ reported recently on developments within Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Ofsted is an impartial, independent body that reports directly to Parliament. Its role is to “inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages” (Ofsted, 2012).
I CAN noted on their blog (I CAN, 2012) that as of January 2012, Ofsted “has a spotlight on pupils’ communication skills. The inspectors must consider how well pupils develop a range of skills, including reading, writing, communication and mathematical skills and how well they apply these across the curriculum”.
Research tells us that nursery-aged children with communication difficulties will be far more likely to go onto have difficulties with literacy at school age. Ofsted is therefore recognising the importance of all school-aged children having strong communication skills.
I CAN has a number of suggestions to implement in schools:
  • Teaching pupils how to work effectively in pairs and groups- rather than just saying work with a partner, for example by assigning them roles with prompt cards to structure their conversations.
  • Focusing on the communication skills of pupils who repeatedly find themselves in trouble at school because they either don’t understand instructions or keep saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
  • Helping pupils become more independent learners by teaching the sort of language they need to question and challenge.
  • Training some pupils to give feedback to their peers and even their teacher on how well they learnt in the lesson (easier than how well the teacher taught!), increasing their responsibility for their own learning.
  • Focusing on subject specific vocabulary and working across the staff team on some of those key words that crop up across all subjects such as evaluate, summarise and define.
Ofsted has also produced a ‘good practice’ example leaflet for education providers looking to plan practical activities supporting language development. One such example can be found here: and features a Childminder discussing how using a play den can promote communication skills.


Further Information


I CAN (2012)

If you think that your child may benefit from speech and language therapy or associated therapies, Integrated Treatment Services could be of help. Contact us here:

Sarah Bennington, May 2012

Written on behalf of Integrated Treatment Services.Integrated Treatment Service  is a private Speech and Language Therapy service based in Leicestershire, East Midlands and Southern England. It specialises in providing highly-skilled Speech and Language Therapists, but also associates with other therapeutic professionals, including Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists and Arts Psychotherapists

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