Speech, Language and Communication Needs in 0-5s

The Early Years Communication Pathway has been designed for everyone working across the early years workforce to help them identify Speech, Language and Communication Needs in 0-5 year olds and support them to address issues.

The Pathway is a multi-agency response to meet the needs of all children who have Speech Language and Communications Needs (SLCN), from early identification through to providing a range of interventions at different levels and within all Early Years settings. This involves both Health and Education workers across the Milton Keynes locality.


The purposes of the Early Years Communication Pathway

  • Address early identification and support for SLCN in young children due to reduced developmental opportunities, commonly linked to social disadvantage that can significantly compromise school readiness, mental health/emotional development/resilience.

  • Produce a Joint Health and Education SLCN pathway with a graduated response to communication development concerns at a universal, targeted and specialist level. Agreed roles and responsibilities will ensure no duplication of resources and will maximise efficient working practices that are informed by current research.

  • Address inconsistency in training for SLCN across the local authority by adopting a competency framework (core and enhanced level) that results in skill development being the key driver for commissioning of training. In addition, the training model must be sustainable and provided on a rolling programme to address the high turnover of staff in early years settings.

Key features of the Early Years Communication Pathway

  • A pathway that clearly shows the roles and responsibilities of the whole Early Years workforce within Health and the Local Authority, at Universal, Targeted and Specialist response levels. This will ensure that children and parents get responsive support, at the right time and within the most appropriate environment. It also enables the delivery of consistent key messages about SLC development within all universal provisions i.e. children centres, health settings eg baby clinics, nursery/preschools.

  • Introducing the highly successful “First Assess Communication Tool” (FACT)  for use in Early Years settings. This tool has already been embedded into all schools across the Milton Keynes locality as a method to identify SLCN and give guidance on early intervention strategies. The FACT is completed for every child with possible SLCN and is required as part of the referral process to the Specialist Teaching Team and to Speech and Language Therapy provision.  The Early Years section has been revised and strengthened to provide practitioners with a tool to help them identify the child’s needs, provide guidance on intervention and targets to be implemented within the setting , when to seek further help and which professional would be the most appropriate to help given the child’s needs. The FACT will be explained in full in training sessions that are currently being organised.

  • A commitment to developing the skills of Practitioners working in Early Years settings. The Early Years Communication Competency framework sets out the skills that all staff need to work towards to develop and extend their ability and confidence in both identifying SLCN and in providing intervention that can make a difference. This is supported by “ICan” research which highlights the need for early preventative work to start from birth in order to promote awareness of the importance of communication and early interaction through ensuring families have contact with competent staff, able to give good quality support and improve early identification.

The Early Years working party is looking forward to meeting practitioners and together we will be able to effectively support all children with speech, language and communication needs. 


Last Updated: 30 November 2017