peep early communication matters training and policy links

This one-day training enables practitioners and settings to support and improve children's speech, language & communication skills, and crucially to work with and empower parents to enhance their children’s language development at home.

This training supports practitioners to:

  • recognise and support typical language development (pre-verbal and verbal);
  • understand why children might have difficulty listening, and know how to help;
  • support families to enhance children’s language development at home;
  • understand how singing, play and sharing books relate to language development;  
  • recognise when a child doesn’t understand language;
  • know when to refer children to a speech and language therapist, and how to support them in the meantime.

‘Useful strategies, active exercises and play ideas that I can take back.’ (Early Years Practitioner)


Save the Children’s ‘Ready to Read’ report (2015) states that ‘the single biggest issue’ affecting child development in Scotland today is speech and language delay.
Research thereafter, carried out by Com Res in November 2015 on behalf of Save the Children, sought feedback from primary school teachers in Scotland on speech and language ability in children at school entry.

These research findings indicated that children frequently start school with poorly developed speech and language skills which impact on their ability to understand instructions, to express themselves and makes learning to read difficult.

84% of teachers reported that children with speech and language delays can struggle to concentrate in the classroom and over 50% of teachers involved in the research identified that children have difficulty speaking in full sentences which in turn impacts upon their ability to socialise effectively and make friends.
Children living in Scotland’s poorest communities have a significantly increased chance of language difficulties and for those who experience these challenges in their earliest years, significant specialist support is required to provide an opportunity to catch up. The Royal College of Speech and Language report that poorer health and social disadvantage in adulthood can be traced to language and communication needs in the early years. They report that this situation is “intergenerational and recurring” (RCSLT, 2017)

The Effective Provision of Pre School Education (EPPE) project was conducted between 1997 and 2004. The study observed the development and learning of children between three and seven years of age with access to early years settings prior to school age against those who stay in the home environment until the aged five. The study suggested that “specialised support in pre-schools, especially for language and pre-reading skills can benefit from disadvantaged backgrounds and those for whom English was an additional language” (Sylva, 2004).

Communication is recognised as critically important to a child’s life chances. The Bercow report (2008) reviewed the availability of provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs in England.

Five key themes emerged relating to specific requirements to be addressed for meaningful change to occur: recognition that communication is crucial and any delay or concerns around development should be identified and supported as early as possible. Services are required to be family needs led and joint working between services supports good practice. Currently there exists a high degree of variability and inequity.

Peep Early Communication Matters training has a focus upon supporting practitioners and settings to increase their understanding of how to improve children’s language and communication. New understanding and skill may then be passed on to parents to enhance children’s learning within the home. 

The training gives practitioners understanding in order to learn to recognise and support typical language development and to recognise when additional support and intervention would be beneficial. The training is delivered by two experienced trainers, one of whom is qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist.

In Scotland Building the Ambition is the national practice guidance for Early Learning and Childcare practitioners. It recognises that home is the ‘first and most important place for a child to grow and develop’.

The Peep Early Communication Matters training implements the Building the Ambition practice guidelines to:

  • Increase practitioner knowledge, skills and confidence around speech and language development and related support strategies.
  • Increase parenting/family capacity and skills to enhance children’s language and development at home.

Every Child, Every Chance is the delivery plan sitting under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. The Poverty and Inequality Commission identified that this delivery plan should give cognizance to adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) and ensure nurturing environments which maximise the potential of all.

Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) is Scotland’s national approach to improving outcomes and is core to all government policies there to support children, young people and their families. GIRFEC strives to ensure that children receive the right help, at the right time, from the right people in order that they grow up feeling loved, safe and respected with optimum chances to realise their full potential.

In 2016 the Early Years Collaborative and the Raising Attainment for All programmes were combined by the Scottish Government with a renewed ambition to improve children’s outcomes and reduce the attainment gap through early intervention, health and family support.