Just Sociology

Speech and Language Support in the Time of Covid: Examining Lockdowns Cultural Deprivation and Government Spending

Speech and language support is crucial for young children to develop their communication skills, interact with others, and succeed academically. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have brought about unprecedented levels of disruption to children’s education, socialization, and language development.

This article will explore the increasing need for speech and language support, particularly among primary school pupils, and the factors contributing to cultural deprivation and language delay. Through an analysis of recent research and literature, this article will investigate the impact of lockdowns, teacher and therapist reports, and early language intervention programs, as well as the role of restricted speech codes, catch-up difficulties, and government spending on speech development.

Increase in Speech and Language Support Needs

Lockdown’s Effects

The global Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on children’s education and development. With the implementation of school closures and social distancing measures, children have been forced into isolation and have had limited opportunities for socialization or language development.

Research has found that young children experience significant disruptions to speech development during lockdowns due to reduced socialization, limited peer interactions, and lack of face-to-face contact with teachers and therapists. The impact of these factors is particularly detrimental for children who are already struggling with speech and language difficulties.

Teacher and Therapist Reports

Reports from teachers and therapists working with primary school pupils have highlighted the negative effects that lockdowns have had on children’s communication skills. Many primary pupils are struggling with poor communication skills, increased anxiety, and reduced ability to develop social interactions with their peers.

Moreover, the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have made it especially challenging for pupils with special educational needs, such as those who have autism or hearing loss, to access the appropriate support and resources needed for language development.

Early Language Intervention Programme

An early language intervention program, such as the one introduced by the UK government in 2016, has been suggested as a way to catch up with the progress that pupils have missed out on during the Covid-19 pandemic. Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), trained in language development, provide one-to-one or small-group sessions to pupils who require additional support.

However, the introduction of this program has also increased the workload of LSAs and raised concerns about the limited funding provided for speech and language support.

Cultural Deprivation and Speech Development

Bernstein’s Concept of Restricted Speech Code

The concept of restricted speech code proposed by Basil Bernstein suggests a link between language development and cultural deprivation. Restricted speech code refers to language that is simple, with minimal use of abstract terms and limited elaboration, and is often associated with the language of the working-class.

According to Bernstein, children from lower socio-economic backgrounds have limited exposure to elaborated speech code, which includes more abstract terms and complex sentence structures. As a result, these children may struggle to understand and use complex language in educational and social settings.

Difficulty in Catching Up and Lower Income

Children from lower-income families may experience difficulties catching up with their peers due to limited exposure to elaborated speech code. Moreover, research has found that language development in the first three years of life is critical for academic success later in life.

Children who do not receive adequate speech and language support during this time may experience linguistic disadvantage throughout their school years, resulting in achievement gaps and reduced educational opportunities.

Connection to Government Spending

The government has an important role to play in addressing issues of cultural deprivation and speech development by providing adequate funding for early years development. However, limited funds for early years education in lower-class areas can perpetuate a cycle of cultural deprivation and disadvantage.

Children from lower-income families are less likely to attend high-quality early years education due to the inability of their parents to afford the fees or the location of quality provision being a barrier. As a result, these children may miss out on crucial language development opportunities and face linguistic disadvantage into their school years.


The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for speech and language support, particularly among primary school pupils who have experienced significant disruptions to their socialization and language development. Moreover, the impact of cultural deprivation on speech development and academic success cannot be understated.

It is crucial for governments to prioritize funding for early years education, particularly in lower-income areas, to provide children with the necessary support and resources needed to promote speech and language development, and address issues of cultural deprivation. The implementation of early language intervention programs is also vital to catch up with the progress that pupils have missed out on during the pandemic, and ensure no child is left behind.

In conclusion, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children’s speech and language development, highlighting the need for increased support for young learners. Cultural deprivation also presents a significant challenge that needs to be addressed through adequate funding for early years education.

While the road to promoting speech development and overcoming cultural deprivation may be a long one, it is crucial to prioritize providing children with the necessary support and resources for academic success and to ensure that no child is left behind.



What is the impact of lockdowns on speech and language support needs among children? – Lockdowns have had a negative effect on children’s language development due to limited socialization and reduced access to support resources.

2. How have teachers and therapists reported on the effects of lockdowns on pupils’ communication skills?

– Reports indicate that primary pupils are struggling with poor communication skills, heightened anxiety, and an inability to socialize with peers. 3.

What is an early language intervention program, and how can it help? – An early language intervention program provides additional support to pupils who require assistance to catch up on missed progress, usually facilitated by Learning Support Assistants (LSAs).

4. What is the concept of restricted speech code, and what impact can it have?

– Restricted speech code is a simple language structure that is often associated with working-class language, which can lead to difficulties in academic settings and later life. 5.

How does lower-income impact speech and language development and academic success? – Limited access to elaborated speech code means children from lower-income families may experience difficulties catching up with their peers, putting them at a disadvantage in academic settings.

6. What role does government spending in early years education play?

– Adequate funding for early years education is crucial in providing support to young learners and breaking the cycle of cultural deprivation.

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