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BACKGROUND: Children with speech difficulties may have associated educational problems. This paper reports a study examining the educational attainment of children at Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum who had previously been identified with a speech difficulty. AIMS: (1) To examine the educational attainment at Key Stage 1 of children diagnosed with speech difficulties two/three years prior to the present study. (2) To compare the Key Stage 1 assessment results of children whose speech problems had resolved at the time of assessment with those whose problems persisted. SAMPLE(S): Data were available from 39 children who had an earlier diagnosis of speech difficulties at age 4/5 (from an original cohort of 47) at the age of 7. A control group of 35 children identified and matched at preschool on age, nonverbal ability and gender provided comparative data. METHODS: Results of Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs) in reading, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and maths, administered to children at the end of Year 2 of school were analysed. Performance across the two groups was compared. Performance was also compared to published statistics on national levels of attainment. RESULTS: Children with a history of speech difficulties performed less well than controls on reading, spelling and maths. However, children whose speech problems had resolved by the time of assessment performed no differently to controls. Children with persisting speech problems performed less well than controls on tests of literacy and maths. Spelling performance was a particular area of difficulty for children with persisting speech problems. CONCLUSIONS: Children with speech difficulties are likely to perform less well than expected on literacy and maths SAT's at age 7. Performance is related to whether the speech problem resolves early on and whether associated language problems exist. Whilst it is unclear whether poorer performance on maths is because of the language components of this task, the results indicate that speech problems, especially persisting ones, can affect the ability to access the National Curriculum to expected levels.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Educ Psychol

Publication Date





173 - 186


Child, Child, Preschool, Curriculum, Educational Status, Female, Humans, Language, Male, Mathematics, Speech Disorders