Headlines: April 29th, 2008

Schools across the country are to get access to advice and training materials on how to support children and young people who stammer. The work will be done by the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children, which has been given 340,000 pounds by the Government to develop a stammering information programme that will be rolled out to all schools by 2010.

The Centre is acknowledged as a world leader in the field. Its staff will work with young people and their families as well as with local speech and language therapy services and school staff to develop the training packages. Latest estimates suggest that about five children in every hundred have difficulty with their fluency at some point in the development of their speech and language. Stammering is regarded as having a major impact on children’s lives both academically and socially. For example, children with a stammer are more likely to become withdrawn or anxious and can become the victims of bullying. It is hoped the new funding will mean schools are better able to meet their needs.

Michael Palin welcomed the announcement and said it would be wonderfully encouraging news for those who stammer and those who seek to help them. The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls visited the Centre last year. “The training and information that schools will receive as a result of this funding will mean they can better understand the condition and how best to supportpupils who stammer,” he said.

The Bercow Review, commissioned by the Government last autumn, is aiming to improve services for children and young people from birth to 19 who have speech, language and communications difficulties. More than 2,000 people responded to the Review’s consultation and there were almost 1,000 responses from families.