Charedi youth suffer ‘learning delay’

By Candice Krieger, November 13, 2008
Michelle Morris: raising concerns

Michelle Morris: raising concerns

A leading consultant speech and language therapist has expressed concern that Charedi children are at risk of developing delayed language skills.

Salford-based Michelle Morris, a professional adviser to the Department of Health, said that due to the large numbers of children in Charedi families, they might not be getting the attention needed for adequate language development.

She said: "In the Charedi community, it is very difficult to spend time with individual children but language skills are a fundamental basis of all education. They are of the utmost importance. I don't think people realise the link between early language and continued education, whether in Torah studies or secular studies.

"Children are expected to have very effective speech and language skills when they start school and often, due to environmental factors, they don't have the standards required."

Ms Morris, who is in her 40s and has been working for Salford Community Primary Care Trust since 1982, is a leading authority in this field. On Tuesday, the mother-of-two will visit Buckingham Palace in recognition of her contributions to the National Health Service. "It is an honour to be invited and it's certainly very nice."

She added: "In general, we are seeing an increasing number of children with delayed language development for a variety of different reasons, such as the environment."

She is a member of Prestwich Hebrew Congregation and is married to solicitor Robert Festenstein.

Last updated: 4:42pm, November 13 2008



Thu, 11/20/2008 - 01:30

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Seems to me that Ms Morris is the one with the speech defect: she doesn't know what she's talking about! What a nasty twist on the classic prejudiced libel against chareidi families: "With so many children they can't possibly care for them all properly."

Rubbish! From working in chareidi schools I know hundreds of chareidi families, and dozens with over 10 kids, and the vast, overwhelming majority of them (a far bigger proportion than of the non-chareidi families I dealt with in other schools) give their kids a wonderful upbringing with at least as much care and attention as the children get in much smaller non-chareidi families, usually more. The parents spend quality time with them during the week as well as on Shabbos and Yomtov, and the kids are largely immune from the culture of zombie-like TV-watching and PC-playing that deprives so many kids from non-chareidi homes of opportunities for real socialisation and communication development. And besides, with lots of kids in the family, there's oodles of 'rich language environment' around them from early infancy!

The results speak for themselves: meet grown-up children from chareidi homes and overwhelmingly you'll be impressed by their intelligent, articulate conversation and outstanding academic achievement, as well as by their characters.

Does Michelle Morris have a single verifiable statistic to back up her outrageous libel? If not I think she should be reported to her professional body for misconduct and certainly removed from her position as a government adviser.