Language proficiency is a major determinant of academic success, life chances and wellbeing. At secondary school, language can create even more of a barrier, as it becomes more challenging: vocabulary is more specialised, and texts are increasingly complex. At the same time, independent reading becomes essential to access the curriculum. Yet, one in six adolescents experience difficulties with reading, and one in five experience difficulties with language in general. The proportion is higher still in deprived areas.
Very little research exists on the language abilities of secondary school pupils. There is also no standardised language assessment tool for children who have English as an additional language (EAL). As a result, there is a lack of resources for schools to identify and support those struggling with language.