Creating a holistic profile for a pupil with SLCN

In this unit, we look at the difficulties experienced by pupils with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Your unit PDF and the digital resources cover several key areas that you will need to understand when developing a profile of a pupil with SLCN:

  • Definitions of SLCN
  • Comorbidity with other areas of SEN
  • Typical speech and language development
  • How to gather information about a pupil
  • How to categorise and analyse information to create a holistic profile of the pupil and their SLCN

Characteristics of SLCN


Speech disorders can present as difficulties with forming sounds or as problems with the pitch or volume of the voice. Difficulties with speech therefore include the following:

  • Speech which is difficult to understand, possibly due to problems in making different sounds
  • Difficulties in discriminating between speech sounds
  • Stammering or stuttering
  • An unusual voice quality
  • Problems in using intonation to add meaning or emphasis to what is being said

The term SLCD is sometimes used to describe all pupils with SLCN, including those represented in these pie charts.


SLCD is used to describe...


Up to 50% of children who grow up in areas of social disadvantage may start school with communication skills that are less developed than their peers from more affluent areas.


At the age of 7, approximately 7% of children with SLCN have it as their primary difficulty. This is also referred to as having a specific language impairment (SLI).


Around 3-4% of children have SLCN as part of another condition ??? for example autism, a hearing impairment, or MLD.


SLCN can occur alongside many other types of SEN, often as an unrelated, coexisting condition. In the case of the conditions shown in this mind map, the prevalence of comorbidity of SLCN suggests that there are either shared causal influences for both conditions, or that one condition exacerbates or directly results in the other.


Other SEN

  • Speech and language impairments
  • Learning difficulties
  • ASD
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia
  • DCD
  • ADHD
  • BESD
All pupils with these conditions also have SLCN
Pupils with these conditions are at an increased risk of having SLCN

Pupil voice

In order to gain a full understanding of a pupil's SLCN and complete a comprehensive and holistic profile of their needs, it is important that you ascertain the views of the pupil. They may be able to give insight into:

  • What they find difficult as a result of their SLCN
  • The impact of their SLCN on their learning
  • How having SLCN restricts social and academic participation
  • The features of lessons that they find most accessible
  • The approach they use when they don't understand or can't express something
  • What they feel their strengths are

Additionally, you can enhance your understanding of the pupil by asking about their perspective on SLCN, and feelings relating to being labelled as having SLCN.