Good communication is the gateway to learning, friendships, academic achievement and success at work

Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tool - Age 3

What is the Age 3 Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tool?

The age 3 Progression Tool is part of a set of Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools designed to help identify how children and young people are progressing with their speech, language and communication skills at key ages.

We know some children can have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) that can impact on their ability to listen, understand and express themselves. However, it's not always easy to judge how well a child is progressing with these skills; children may have good skills in one area whilst struggling in others.

The age 3 Progression Tool aims to support early years practitioners to identify children who may be struggling to develop their speech, language and communication skills. It can also be used to track progression of these skills over time or following interventions.

The age 3 Tool is based on theoretical information on typical language development and also the Universally Speaking booklets. It aims to provide a relatively quick way of determining where children are against where they should be for their age and provide more information about how these vital skills are progressing.

This Tool is not a diagnostic tool and does not in any way replace the detailed speech, language and communication assessment by a speech and language therapist that some children will need. However, it will provide information to help you decide whether individual children would benefit from a targeted intervention or whether they need specialist assessment and support.

Please click here to view our 'How to Use the Progression Tools' video.

Please click here to download more frequently asked questions.

Please click here to download a 'Top Tips' sheet to help you use the Tool.

How were the Tools developed?

The Progression Tools were developed by specialists in speech, language and communication in collaboration with mainstream teachers, teaching assistants, SENCOs and school leadership teams, as well as early years practitioners and speech and language therapists. This Tool has been tested out in a number of early years settings, on a range of children.

The feedback we have received has been invaluable in shaping the final Tool.

Who should use them?

The Tools are for non speech and language specialists who regularly work with children, including a range of early years practitioners. We recommend careful reading of the instructions and familiarisation with the Tool before using it directly with children.

When should I use them?

Some settings have used the tool across whole groups of children to help them understand the level of speech, language and communication skills across year groups. Others have trialled them with specific children or groups of children who have either gone on to have a targeted intervention or have been referred on to speech and language therapy.

On each child's scoring form, there is space for you to repeat the tool at a later date (repeating the tool is optional and can be used to monitor progress or following an intervention). We would recommend waiting at least a term before repeating the tool with the same child.

Linking to the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

One of the prime areas in the English EYFS is communication and language. This Tool provides an opportunity to identify whether children are developing in line with their age in this area. In addition, elements of this Tool provide an understanding of how children are developing in the area of personal, social and emotional development and underlying skills for literacy.

What do the Tools look like and how do I order?

There are 8 Progression Tools, which highlight children and young people's language skills at the following key ages of development: 3, 4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 in early years and primary school, and 11-12, 13-14 and 16-18 in secondary school. They are based on research with clear information about expected milestones. 

This Progression Tool is intended for children aged 3-4. The development described is that which is typical of a child who has just turned 3 years old. If you are working with an able child who is nearly 4 years old, you may want to consider looking at how they get on with the 4 year old Progression Tool.

The age 3 Tool contains a colour reference booklet with instructions on how to use it, questions to ask the children, guidance on how to observe their behaviour and methods to track their results. Each Tool also contains additional black and white versions of the question and observation sections, as well as the scoring tables. You can photocopy these additional sheets for as many children you wish to use the Tool with. You will use these sheets to write down and score their answers, as well as to input their results.

Please click here to order your copy at a price of £29.99 plus postage and packaging. 

For more information about the primary Tools, please click here.

For more information about the secondary Tools, please click here.

If you have any enquiries about the Progression Tools please contact us on