Today, The Kings Speech, is released in UK cinemas.  It tells the story of King George VI, who, although he was never destined to be King, became the monarch following the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII.  George VI, or Bertie as he was previously known, had a stammer, and so the film tells the story of his relationship with Lionel Logue who helped him to face his fears of public speaking in order to make the broadcast speeches that were expected of a monarch, particularly in wartime.   What has that to do with education.  Not a lot, not directly. The release of the film however is the first date in the diary of Hello – the national year of communication.

Supported by the Department for Education,   Hello is the national year of communication, 2011.

What is hello?

It is a campaign, run by The Communication Trust, which is a collection of voluntary and community organisations with interests in speech, language and communication.  The campaign hopes to raise understanding about the importance of speech, language and communication skills to children and young people.  It is estimated that around 10% of children (over 1 million children) have a speech, language or communication need, not caused by deprivation or english as an additional language.  Problems can be exacerbated by poverty, and in areas of high social deprivation it is estimated that upwards of 50% of children begin school with some form of language delay.  Hello aims to raise awareness among parents, children’s workforce, and health care commissioners and providers.  The timing of the release of The Kings Speech fits nicely with the first months’ theme: Don’t take communication for granted.  About The Kings Speech, The Communication Trust says:

“hopefully this film will help others to understand what it is like for those who struggle to communicate and the people around them.”

The British Stammering Association is one of the organisations working with The Communication Trust, and it sees the release of the film is an opportunity to raise awareness of, and to talk openly about the challenges faced by people who stammer.  It has a dedicated stammering in education site which provides invaluable information for school staff, as well as some excellent information concerning pre-school children.

Meanwhile, watch the film.

More information on Hello, and statistics on children with speech language and communication can be found in the FAQs document produced by  The Communication Trust.

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