The policy-to-practice context to the delays and difficulties in the acquisition of speech language and communication in the first five years

Blackburn, Carolyn (2014) The policy-to-practice context to the delays and difficulties in the acquisition of speech language and communication in the first five years. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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The research aim was to investigate the policy-to-practice context to the delays and difficulties in the acquisition of speech, language and communication in the first five years in one local authority in England.
Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model was used to structure the thesis and as a tool of analysis. This facilitated an examination of the nested social contexts that influence children’s speech, language and communication such as policy intentions at the macro level and adult-child interactions in the microcontext of home and early years settings as well as relations between settings at the meso level and the local authority influence at the exo level. Successive stages of data collected have informed those that followed from analysis of policy documents to survey of and interviews with stakeholders such as early years practitioners, interviews with parents and observations of target children in early years settings.

Analysis of policy texts revealed a gathering consensus on the importance of early years in children’s learning and development, future academic success and employability. The centrality of language, the effectiveness of early identification of children’s problems with speech, language and communication and early intervention to reduce or prevent later special educational needs and disabilities were highlighted.

This study has highlighted the difficult and subjective nature of early identification and assessment and the wide variation in children’s early experiences, social interaction, speech, language and communication, socio-economic and socio-cultural environments. The benefits for children with speech, language and communication needs attending combined early years placements are exemplified. Children’s use of private speech has been an interesting finding. Practitioners from both mainstream and specialist settings would have liked to have more guidance on early identification and assessment in their initial training and would also like more training on ways to work with other professionals and to support children with English as an Additional Language. The study has enabled a distinctive model of bioecology for SLCN for birth to five years to be conceptualised.

Challenges and opportunities for practitioners in supporting a diverse range of SLCN are discussed and the appropriateness and practicality of requiring generalist practitioners to undertake specialist roles is questioned.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
September 2014Published
Uncontrolled Keywords: Early Childhood Intervention; Speech, Language and Communication, Early Childhood, Policy, Training, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Subjects: CAH22 - education and teaching > CAH22-01 - education and teaching > CAH22-01-01 - education
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Study of Practice and Culture in Education (C-SPACE)
Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Depositing User: Carolyn Blackburn
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2016 09:58
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 16:58

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