Early Language & Communication Development

Language and communication development is the most frequent concern we are seeing at 27-30 months and is fundamental to wider development and outcomes.

At the CYPIC National Conference 2022, we had a breakout to talk about how QI can be used to improve speech, language and communication in the early years, including a presentation from Public Health Scotland showing the current data and that this is now a public health issue. We heard about how East Ayrshire has taken a whole system approach and this video shows how this has impacted in ELC: Supporting early communication in East Ayrshire. We are currently building on this learning from East Ayrshire.

Our Collaborate workstream has been developed as part of the ELC QI Learning Exchange to bring focus to improving speech, language and communication needs in Early Learning and Childcare settings. We know from national data and what members have been telling us that this is a priority area for improvement. You can explore data on early child development collected through child health reviews on the Public Health Scotland dashboard: HEYS Dashboard (

We have worked with the national stakeholder group to develop a national driver diagram (below), which was introduced in the Early Language and Communication Workshop at the CYPIC National Conference 2023.

Early Language Development National Theory of Change

The purpose of the driver diagram is to support collaboration towards the shared vision:

Together, we will create the conditions to develop every child's speech, language and communication, starting from pre-birth, nurturing them to reach their fullest potential. 

Together means joint working across sectors and professions with families in communities.

The change theory is focused on early years, from pre-birth to age 5 – recognising that a preventative approach is needed; making sure babies and young children experience the environments and interactions they need for their communication to develop. Recognising that parents and the wider community are key to this but may need different levels of support.

The primary drivers are based on the The Balanced System® speech, language and communication pathway, and the principles behind the theory reflect Equity for All and the understanding of experts about what needs to be in place to support young children’s language development.

Workforce is referred to in the driver diagram, which includes anyone working with early years children and their families across sectors. This includes for example, health visitors, midwives, family nurses, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and other allied health professionals, early years education and play practitioners, educational psychologists, social work and wider family support.

We are working on a refreshed version of this driver diagram to show its alignment with the Early Child Development work and will share it here soon.
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