News and Comment

Early Language Development Programme celebrates successful roll out and positive impacts on practitioners and families

Friday 13 March 2015

The Early Language Development Programme (ELDP) led by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, celebrated its successful roll out at an event hosted by OPM yesterday.

Funded by the Department for Education, the ELDP is a national training programme that increases awareness, knowledge and confidence amongst the early years workforce supporting children’s speech, language and communication development on a national and local basis. Over 1,000 lead practitioners have been trained via the ELDP cascading to over 16,000 local practitioners who in turn have supported over 150,000 parents and carers.

The ELDP was evaluated by OPM, in partnership with Sheffield University. The report is available for download here.

At the celebration event, OPM and Sheffield University highlighted that the ELDP has been shown to change practice that is sustained over time and revealed:

  • 93% of practitioners surveyed were more knowledgeable about children’s early language development.
  • 87% of parents knew more and felt more confident about supporting speech and language.
  • The programme helped develop speech, language and communication supportive practice.
  • Changes in practice were sustained for nine or more months after ELDP training.
  • As a result, early years practitioners changed the way they organised their settings and the way they interacted with children to help early language development.
  • ELDP helps to develop practitioners’ use of strategies to support early speech, language and communication development.

Edward Timpson MP, Minister for Children and Families, said: “A skilled early years workforce and informed parents are essential for ensuring children develop good communications skills early on.

“I’m delighted the Early Language Development Programme (ELDP), funded by the Department for Education and led by I CAN, has had such a positive impact on practitioners, parents, carers and children, with early indications showing improvements in the language development of children aged 0-3.”

Virginia Beardshaw CBE, I CAN CEO, says: “I CAN has driven forward the ELDP, with support from consortium partners, to fundamentally improve and enhance the quality of early years provision. Over 1,000 lead practitioners have been trained to cascade information on supporting young children’s communication and language to their networks of local practitioners through the ELDP.

“Parents involved in the programme have increased their confidence through activities they can use at home helping to give their children the best start in life. We are thrilled that the ELDP makes a tangible difference to early years practice and is positively impacting on children and families. It is fantastic that these results have come through so clearly in the OPM and Sheffield University evaluation report.

“Getting support and identification right in the early years means that fewer children are starting school without the basic skills they need to learn and make friends. Importantly, children with SLCN can receive support at the earliest stage when it can really make a difference. I would like to thank ELDP’s consortium partners – the Pre-school Learning Alliance, Action for Children, the Children’s Society and Elklan – for the commitment and expertise they have given to the programme.“

Donna Link, Directorate for People – Foundation Years Parenting Support Team, in Birmingham says: “As the largest local authority in Europe, with over 100 languages spoken and 87,000 under fives in authority, we were excited to be involved with the ELDP.

“Once the programme was underway we received feedback of increased knowledge, confidence and awareness to support children’s early language development from our local practitioners. Importantly, the programme renewed enthusiasm for further learning and improvements in practice and increased confidence in sharing support and advice with parents and carers.”

ELDP photo of Lauren & Oli

Speakers included Lauren Roberts from OPM (pictured), Sian Ansell from Essex County Council and Dr Judy Clegg from Sheffield University.


The ELDP celebration event gathered leading early years organisations and individuals to debate the programme’s evaluation and plans to sustain the ELDP legacy post March 2015.

Following the event, Sheffield University will be publishing the results of a case study series looking at detailed outcomes for 30 children involved in ELDP with early findings highlighting improvements in children’s language.

Moving forward, I CAN will be offering training for practitioners that can also contribute to their portfolio going towards a national level 3 qualification in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication. The ELDP can be purchased by individuals, organisations or whole local authorities with flexible training that is tailored to suit local needs.

For further information on the ELDP, or to find out more about the legacy of the programme, visit