The oral language and reading comprehension skills of adolescents in flexible learning programmes Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose: Access to flexible learning programmes (FLPs) for students who have been excluded or diverted from mainstream school settings is increasing internationally. While still technically "engaged with education" such students face long-term vulnerability with respect to acquiring marketable employment skills post-school. Language and literacy skills are central to such training; hence, this study describes the oral language and reading comprehension profiles of a sample of flexible learning programmes (FLP) students. Method: Fifty young people (mean age 16 years) enrolled in three FLPs in Victoria, Australia were assessed by a speech-language pathologist in order to profile their oral language and reading comprehension skills. Result: Seventy-two percent of participants had oral language skills that placed them in an at-risk range on standardised measures, and 47.5% had reading comprehension ages of ≤12 years. A moderate significant association existed between oral language and reading comprehension skills. Conclusion: Language and reading comprehension difficulties are prevalent in this population and may be missed in the context of the mental health and adjustment difficulties experienced by this group, but are likely to be key to academic engagement and success. Speech-language pathology scope of practice needs to include FLP settings.

publication date

  • 2019