Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education’s (DfE) Best Start in Speech, Language and Communication Programme aims to improve the rate of early identification of need in the early years and increase the number of children who are ready for school by the age of 5.

PHE and DfE published a suite of resources to support this work, including guidance to support local commissioners and service leads, case studies and a early language identification measure and intervention tool.

Guidance to support local commissioners and service leads

This guidance document includes a: summary of why early language and communication matters and the scale of the problem in England, a ‘model example’ for an integrated early years speech, language and communication pathway built on evidence and implementation experience, and a 4-step implementation plan to help local areas review local needs and service provision to support the development and successful implementation of a whole system approach to improving SLC.

Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention tool

This handbook is a guide for practitioners to carry out the Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention programme as part of the 2 to 2½ year review. It is structured as a conversation with the child’s parent/carer, encouraging practitioners to support the parent/carer to make informed decisions for their child.

The handbook outlines the 3 steps of the Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention programme: assessment, conversation, and intervention.

Case studies

This document contains a collection of peer reviewed case studies which provide national and local examples of speech, language and communication pathways and clarification of how an integrated system can work in practice.

Supporting evidence

This document includes:

  • a summary of the ways that early SLC develops and the risk and protective factors that influence this – it sets out a case for prioritisation of the first 1000 days of life and the period up to transition to school to strengthen SLC skills and reduce inequalities in early language.
  • key messages, behaviours and strategies that are important in enabling speech, language and communication in the under-fives.
  • ways to improve identification, monitoring and assessment of SLCN and determine when additional specialist support is required.
  • key features of effective interventions for children with SLCN, designed around the needs of the family. It sets out the important role that parents and those closest to the child play in supporting SLC development.