The UK's leading conference for DLD and SLCN

NAPLIC Conference

Register your interest for 2022

Focusing on all aspects of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and SLCN, the NAPLIC 2021 conference will look at how the latest research, innovations and best practice can be utilised to improve outcomes.

NAPLIC’s online conference took place on 8 May 2021. It explored and celebrated Language: The Bridge Across the Gap.

“The NAPLIC conference is always a highlight of the year and this year felt unmissable. The range of speakers was excellent. I was so impressed with the way it was run. I really appreciated hearing from academics whose research I follow and also hearing about best practice. The balance between teachers/therapists felt particularly good this year. I think the Committee have done an incredible job pulling this conference together.”


Read conference summary | View conference programme

Register your interest for NAPLIC’s 2022 conference

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2021 Speakers

  • Professor Neil Mercer, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge: Oracy for all our students
  • Wendy Lee: Oracy for all our students
  • Professor Charles Hulme: Identifying and Remediating Children’s Language Difficulties
  • Professor Courtenay Norbury: Stability and change in language disorders over time: Lessons from SCALES
  • Dr Yvonne Wren: Using Artificial Intelligence to assist language transcription and analysis for children with DLD
  • Professor Kate Nation: The nature and content of children’s book language: implications for language and literacy development

Practitioner presentations:

  • Mary Jo Speary and Pippa Cotterill: Joint working in Wales




Afasic is a specialist national charity that helps and supports children, young people and families affected by Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and related conditions. Research shows that at least 7% of children and young people are affected; an average of 2 per school class and a total of over 1 million.
Afasic was established in 1968 and provides support at key stages in these children & young people’s
lives; provides information and training for parents so they can better support and advocate for their
child; and empowers parents to access the help their child needs.
Afasic works directly with children & young people to develop their communication, social and life skills,
reduce their social isolation and increase their independence. Ultimately, we aim to give these children
& young people the opportunity to reach their potential and take an active role in society rather than
face isolation from it.

Better Communication

Better Communication CIC is a not for profit community interest company. It provides expertise and support to demonstrate impact of commissioning and provision for speech, language and communication needs. Better Communication CIC has established the Balanced System® Scheme for Schools and Settings, an improvement process, jointly accredited with NAPLIC and Afasic which has led to the engagement of approaching 250 schools and settings, thereby impacting on an estimated 110,000 children.

The Balanced System® Scheme for Schools and Settings is a whole setting and system approach to
improving outcomes for children and young people across the range of SLCN ( The scheme has been created in response to schools’ demand for a
strategic approach to understanding their role in providing support for speech, language and
communication. It provides an overarching set of outcomes, approaches and outcome measures along with an impact framework across the core five strands of the Balanced System®: Support for Families & Young People, Environment, Workforce, Identification and Intervention.

Communication Access UK

Communication Access UK is an initiative developed in partnership by charities and organisations that
share a vision to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties.

Led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the partnership includes Communication Matters, the Stroke Association, Headway, the Motor Neruone Disease Association, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, the Business Disability Forum, Disability Rights UK and the Makaton Charity.

Together, we’ve developed the Communication Access Symbol, a new disability access symbol
underpinned by a completely free training package and standards.

We hope that these will help you, or your businesses / organisation to better support people with
communication difficulties.

Communication Access UK has been developed for both organisations and individuals.
Any person or organisation can sign up to Communication Access UK and complete the training package and receive accreditation


Elklan is the leading provider of accredited training for education and early years staff in the field of speech, language and communication. Over 70,000 learners have received national accreditation through our international network of over 3,000 Elklan tutors. Elkan tutors are predominantly speech & language therapists or specialist advisory teachers in SLCN.

Elklan is currently commissioned by the DfE with EDT to provide the Early Years Professional Development Programme (EYPDP) to EY staff across England.

As a result of COVID all our courses to train new tutors as well as accredited training for staff and
parents supporting children and young people in mainstream schools, EY settings and in special schools are being offered on-line through blended e-learning. Bespoke inset training courses can be commissioned.

Courses are accredited by OCN London and teach strategies to support children and young people’s speech and language development whatever curriculum is taught.

Learning Materials Ltd

Unparalleled range of titles designed to help SEN pupils.
Enjoy discounts on all our books, cds, pdfs and downloads. Titles include literacy, numeracy, science and the humanities from reception to post 16. Our best-selling series include ‘Reading for Meaning’, ‘New Reading and Thinking’ and ‘Looking and Thinking’. Many series include
differentiation and learning outcomes. Lots of new titles including the highly acclaimed ‘More
Reading and Thinking’.

You can view sample pages from each series on our website. To get a 10% discount quote NAPLIC on all orders placed before 10th June 2021. Happy to invoice schools and educational establishments.


The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists is the professional body for speech and language therapists and assistant practitioners. We promote excellence in practice and influence health, education and social care policies to achieve the best possible outcomes for people with communication and swallowing difficulties.

Speech and Language Link

Standardised, child friendly, language assessment from Reception to Year 9, plus speech sound assessment for ages 4 to 8. Backed up by interventions for all pupils with SLCN including those that don’t meet the referral criteria.  

Speech and Language Link have been providing help with speech and language in the classroom for twenty years. Our user friendly, online packages deliver evidence of narrowing the gap for disadvantaged pupils and aim to empower education professionals, offering a whole school approach to SLCN. Webinar based in-package training is included, supported by therapists from our speech and language help desk who can be contacted at any time for further advice. 

A no-obligation free two-week trial is available, sign up at 

Plus, join us at our virtual conference, The Link Live on 21st and 22nd May 2021, to register visit


Speechmark, part of Routledge Education, publishes a wide range of high-quality resources for speech and language therapists and teachers, combining research expertise with tried-and-tested best practice.

Written by experts, our Speechmark resources support and inspire practitioners across education, health and social care, and are full of practical, easy-to-use materials to save time and enhance effectiveness. To find out more and take a look at the latest catalogue please visit:

St Catherine’s School

St Catherine’s is a not-for-profit specialist day and residential school, based on the Isle of Wight.

We work with students aged 7 to 19 years who have speech, language and communication needs and associated conditions.

We provide a fully integrated programme of education, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy and residential care to ensure that each student has the very best opportunities to fulfil their potential within their school career and beyond.

What Colour Is Your Dragon

Learning to recognise and express emotions is the key to mental health. We aim to equip every household with a toolkit for becoming emotionally intelligent and share a new language of emotions with the aim to nurture happy, creative and resilient children and families.

What Colour is Your Dragon? is a social and emotional learning programme grounded in neuroscience, mindfulness, creativity and compassion and skilfully blends these four disciplines. It is a highly creative approach to psycho education involving the use of three coloured dragons which represent our emotions. Our method is particularly suited to children with language difficulties because it provides permission and language using the three colours for children who find words difficult. Being able to say ‘I’m red’ or point to a red colour is a very useful short cut for some children. It can also provide a common language to share in the family or at school.

Conference programme

View programme

2021 Conference speakers

Professor Neil Mercer Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge

Oracy for all our students

Neil Mercer is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, Director of Oracy Cambridge: the Centre for Effective Spoken Communication, a Life Fellow of the Cambridge college Hughes Hall and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Before he joined Cambridge, he was Professor of Language and Communications at the Open University. He is a psychologist whose research has focused on the development of children’s spoken language and reasoning abilities and teachers’ role in that development. He has worked extensively and internationally with teachers, researchers and educational policy makers. In 2019 he was given the Oevre Award by the European Association for Research into Learning and Instruction for outstanding contributions to educational research. His books include Words and Minds, Exploring Talk in School, Dialogue and the Development of Children’s Thinking, Interthinking: putting talk to work and Language and the Joint Creation of Knowledge; and he was co-editor of the Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education.


Wendy Lee Speech and language therapist

Wendy Lee

Oracy for all our students

Wendy has worked as a speech and language therapist for over 30 years, in clinical practice, higher education and the third sector. She was Professional Director at The Communication Trust until 2015 where she authored Trust resources and led on strategic projects, as well as inputting on national policy and research.

Wendy is currently the Director of LINGO, which provides consultancy, professional development, resources and speech and language therapy. She believes strongly in evidence based practice, is part of the Oracy Cambridge management group and sits on a number of research advisory groups. She works with academy trusts, schools and settings and in partnership with local and national organisations supporting speech, language and communication.

E mail
Tweet @Lingo_speech

Charles Hulme Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK

Identifying and Remediating Children’s Language Difficulties

Language is the foundation for education and the medium of instruction. Many children, especially those from socially disadvantage backgrounds, enter school with poor oral language skills which compromise their ability to develop literacy skills and to benefit from education more broadly.

I will present the results from several studies showing that interventions delivered early in a child’s life can have positive effects on language and reading comprehension skills. Studies of the Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme developed by our research group show that an oral language programme delivered by teaching assistants working in schools can produce improvements in children’s oral language skills with moderate to large effect sizes. This programme is now being delivered at scale with DfE funding in many English primary schools. In addition a recently developed automated language assessment App ( allows schools to identify children with language weaknesses and monitor their progress.

I will conclude with a plea for the importance of embedding oral language enrichment work in early educational settings.

Professor Courtenay Norbury NAPLIC President

Courtenay Norbury

Stability and change in language disorders over time: Lessons from SCALES

Courtenay Norbury is a Professor of Developmental Disorders of Language and Communication at University College London, where she leads the Literacy, Language and Communication (LiLaC) Lab. She is a qualified speech-language therapist, is a founding member of RADLD and did her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford.

Her research focuses on language disorders across a range of different clinical conditions. She currently leads the Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES), a population study of language disorder from school entry to the end of primary school. She was Chair of Governors at a local primary school.

She has authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications and co-authored a popular textbook, Language Disorders from Infancy to Adolescence.

Dr Yvonne Wren Director of Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit at North Bristol NHS Trust

Using Artificial Intelligence to assist language transcription and analysis for children with DLD

Yvonne Wren is Director of Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit at North Bristol NHS Trust, a NHS hosted research unit dedicated to investigating the ways we can impact on outcomes and patient experience for individuals affected by communication impairment.

Yvonne trained at the University of Manchester and worked for the NHS in hospitals, schools and community settings in Liverpool and Bristol before completing her Masters in Education and PhD at the University of Bristol in 2005. Her doctorate evaluated the use of software in intervention for children with speech sound disorder and lead to the development of the Phoneme Factory software series. Yvonne’s postdoctoral research includes Medical Research Council funded work into prevalence and risk factors for persistent speech disorder with ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), the large-scale longitudinal population study based in the South West of England. More recently she has set up the Cleft Collective Speech and Language Study, an investigation into predictors for speech outcomes in children born with cleft palate, with funding from the National Institute of Health Research. Since July 2020, she has been Chief Investigator for the larger Cleft Collective national cohort study of children born with cleft lip and palate in the UK, funded by The Scar Free Foundation.

Yvonne has an interest in developing clinical research skills in the speech and language therapy profession and was co-editor of the book, ‘Creating Practice-Based Evidence: A guide for SLTs’, now in its second edition and published by J&R Press. She also founded the Child Speech Disorder Research Network, a collective of specialist research and clinical speech and language therapists engaged in research in children’s speech sound disorder and is chair of the Child Speech Committee of the International Association of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She was previously a member of the moderating committee of The Communication Trust’s What Works database of evidence based interventions for use with children with speech, language and communication needs.

Yvonne is Chief Investigator of the Clinical Evaluation of the Language Explorer Study. Funded by the National Institute of Health Research’s i4i (Invention for Innovation) scheme, Language Explorer has been developed using AI and machine learning to provide a tool which can assist with transcription of language samples and provide automatic analysis. Developed by Therapy Box, specialist technology developers in the field of speech and language therapy, it can reduce the time required to complete transcription and analysis substantially. It has the potential to transform the way we work with children with Developmental Language Disorder through providing a rapid dataset for making management decisions as well as baseline and outcome measures. Yvonne will provide an overview of the tool and describe the clinical evaluation which is currently underway.

Kate Nation Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford

Kate Nation

The nature and content of children’s book language: implications for language and literacy development

Kate Nation is Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. Her research is concerned with how people learn and process language, with a particular focus on written language. She is interested in a range of questions concerning the nature of reading and its development, from how children begin to recognize words through to how meaning is extracted and constructed as people read. A key aim at present is to investigate the mechanisms involved in the transition from novice to expert in both typical and atypical development. She also studies language processing in adults, addressing the issue of how skilled behaviour emerges via language learning experience. She was recipient of a 2020 Celebrating Impact Prize from the Economic and Social Research Council in recognition of her contributions to building links between psychological research and education. She has served on a number of Editorial Boards and her research has been recognized by awards from the British Psychological Society and the Experimental Psychology Society. Kate was elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2020

For more information see and follow Kate on twitter @ReadOxford

Mary Jo Spearey Head of Service of ComIT

Mary Jo Spearey

Joint working in Wales

Mary Jo Spearey was born and grew up in Derry in Northern Ireland in troubled times. She began her teaching career over 34 years ago including working as an Advisory Teacher. Throughout her career she has always been extremely interested in Speech, Language and Communication.

In 2009 she took up the post of Head of Service of ComIT, Communication Intervention Team – a school-based service that serves the five local Education Authorities of South East Wales. Currently, ComIT is one of three teams that makes up SenCom – Sensory and Communication Service.

ComIT has developed very close integrated and joint working with the local health authority Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABuHB) Speech and Language Service. Approximately 250 schools across the region are supported and enabled to understand, identify and help children and young people to develop their Speech, Language and Communication skills, especially those with SLCN.

Pippa Cotterill Lead for school aged children within Speech and Language Therapy

Joint working in Wales

Pippa is the Professional Lead for school aged children within Speech and Language Therapy in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

Following her undergraduate Speech and Language Therapy training and in the last 20 years, Pippa has undertaken a number of roles in Speech and Language Therapy in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (covering South East Wales). As the professional lead, Pippa jointly leads the children’s community team (around 60 members of staff), with a clinical focus on supporting children with speech, language and communication needs in schools. Pippa works in partnership with colleagues in Education; particularly with the Communication Intervention Team (ComIT) and with 3 specialist language resources bases and is passionate about delivering evidence based and person centred practice in efficient and effective universal, targeted and specialist Speech and Language Therapy services.

Pippa has led all Wales work with Speech and Language Therapy on Developmental Language Disorder and is heavily involved in preparations for implementation of the Additional Learning Needs Education Tribunal (Wales) Act in September 2021. This has included giving professional advice to Welsh Government (WG) Additional Learning Needs (ALN) working groups and giving evidence to the Children and Young People’s Education Committee in WG. ALN was the focus of her recently completed dissertation for a MSc in Health and Public Service Management, the co-production by parents and Allied Health Professions staff of information for statutory individual development plans for learners.

Additionally, Pippa is the Head of the Wales Office for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and is keen to engage members in the work of the college, enabling better lives for people with communication and swallowing needs.


Conference 2021 summary

Published 23rd May, 2021


“The NAPLIC conference is always a highlight of the year and this year felt unmissable. The range of speakers was excellent. I was so impressed with the way it was run. I really appreciated hearing from academics whose research I follow and also hearing about best practice. The balance between teachers/therapists felt particularly good this year. I think the Committee have done an incredible job pulling this conference together.”


Read more


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