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Celebrating SCALES Impact

SCALES started as a dream over 14 years ago now. After several grant rejections, we finally got the funding we needed to screen the language skills over 7000 children in Surrey when they started school. We then followed the development of language, cognitive, social and academic progress for about 500 children from Year 1 to Year 8. Unfortunately, the last round of testing was severely impacted by Covid-19, lockdowns, and school closures. We’ve been gutted that the grant finished during this time but we have still been able to analyse the data that we’ve got and are pleased that we will be able to continue to publish findings from this rich and amazing dataset.

We’ve also focused on realizing impact from our findings by taking the key messages from our research to practitioners, policy makers and the general public. For example, our animation Words for Well-being, which we created with SCALES participants, has been viewed almost 14,000 times! This is a phenomenal way to let everyone know how language difficulties can affect children’s well-being, and how hard it can be to communicate feelings.

We have summarized our main findings and recommendations in this SCALES Final Report and below we will list links to other impact activities. We will be formally launching this report in the summer term, so keep an eye out for further events.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead SCALES and we are grateful to all of the children, families and schools across Surrey who have supported our research for so long. We hope these findings will continue to be used to improve the lives of young people with language challenges so that they can reach their full potential.


Policy Documents and Advocacy Reports

Bercow: 10 years on

Best start in speech, language and communication: Guidance to support local commissioners and service leads. Public Health England. 2020. (Norbury was expert advisor to the panel):

ICAN: Talking about a Generation

National Literacy Trust: Language Unlocks Reading:

Oracy APPG: Speak for Change:

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Briefing paper on Language Disorder:

RCSLT DLD Factsheet:

Presentation to the APPG in Speech and Language

Practitioner Guidelines

Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health:

National Association of Head Teachers:


Podcasts and Television

  1. PsychologiCALL: On language and longitudinal research
  2. ACAMH: In Conversation… Developmental Language Disorder
  3. TES: Developmental Language Disorder and Misbehaviour
  4. Cambridge Language Sciences: Stability and Change in Child Language
  5. Oxford Department of Education Public Seminars: Stability and Change in developmental language disorder


Print Media


The Times:

Times Educational Supplement:

Public Engagement

ESRC Festival of Social Science 2018 – Words for Well-being

Royal Institution Family Fun Day 2018 – Words for Well-being

UCL Festival of Neuroscience Brain Power 2019


REF2021 Impact Case Study (to be posted 12 May 2022)