Speech, Language and Communication Progression Tools -
What are the Speech, Language and Communication Progression
The secondary Progression Tools are for children and young
people aged 11-12, 13-14 and 16-18. They are 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 young people 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 young person is progressing with these
skills; young people may have good skills in one area whilst
struggling in others.
In secondary schools, partly because of the more subtle changes
we expect at this stage, it's even easier to mistake a lack of
progress with speech, language and communication skills for
something else. Young people with SLCN may be quiet, appear to lack
confidence, and struggle to make friends or seem confused or
disengaged in lessons. Alternatively, their difficulties might be
seen in other ways, such as poor behaviour or difficulties with
The secondary Progression Tools aim to support teaching staff to
identify young people who may be struggling to develop their
speech, language and communication skills. They can also be used to
track progression of these skills over time or following
These Tools are based on theoretical information on typical
language development and also the Universally Speaking booklets.
They aim to provide a relatively quick way of determining where
young people are against where they should be for their age and
provide more information about how these vital skills are
The secondary Tools are not a diagnostic tool and do not in any
way replace the detailed speech, language and communication
assessment by a speech and language therapist that some young
people will need. However, they will give you information to help
decide whether young people would benefit from a targeted
intervention or whether they need specialist assessment and
Please click here to
view our 'How to Use the Progression Tools' video.
Please click here to download more frequently asked
Please click here to download a 'Top Tips' sheet to
help you use the Tool.
How were the Tools developed?
The secondary Progression Tools were developed by specialists in
speech, language and communication in collaboration with mainstream
teachers, teaching assistants, SENCOs and school leadership teams.
They have been tested on a large number of mainstream schools, on a
range of young people.
The feedback we have received has been invaluable in shaping the
final suite of Tools.
The ages chosen for the Tools are the ones where research has
given us the clearest information about expected milestones. There
are expected variations in the way in which language develops,
though the Tools represent what all students of this age should be
able to do according to typical language norms.
Students become more self aware and develop more sophisticated
language from age 16 to 18 as they become young adults. At 15,
students are just on the cusp of this development, though will have
mastered the skills expected in the 13/14 Tool. For this reason,
there isn't a specific Tool for 15 year olds.
If using Tools with 15 year olds, they should score completely
in the green band on the 13/14 Tool, demonstrating this mastery -
this is a good way to check they are at least at this level. If you
want more detailed information about what they can or can't do, the
older Tool should give some insight as they should gain some
success with this, giving an idea of their relative strengths and
Who should use them?
The secondary Tools are for non speech and language specialists
who regularly work with young people in range of secondary
settings, such as teachers and teaching assistants. We recommend
careful reading of the instructions and familiarisation with the
Tool before using it directly with young people.
Secondary aged students will benefit from an explanation of why
this Tool is being used with them.
When should I use them?
Some schools have used the Progression Tools with whole class
groups to help them understand the level of speech, language and
communication skills across year groups. Others have trialled them
with specific groups of young people who have either gone on to
have a targeted intervention or have been referred on to speech and
On each young person'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 young person.
What do the Tools look like and how do I order?
There are 8 Progression Tools, which highlight children's
language skills at the following key ages of development: 3,
5-6, 7-8 and 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.
Each secondary Tool contains a colour reference booklet with
instructions on how to use it, questions to ask the young people,
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 young people you wish to use the Tool with. You will use these
sheets to write down and score their answers, as well as to input
*Please note that for the secondary Tools you will also need a
recording device, as for certain questions where the student might
give a lengthy answer it is strongly recommended that you record
what the student says and then listen back and write it into the
answer box later.
Please click here to order your copy at an introductory
price of £29.99 plus postage and packaging. If you order a set of the Secondary Progression
Tools you will get a 15% discount.
The following secondary Tools are now available to order:
To find out more information about SLCN in Secondary years, please
For more information about the age 3 Tool, please click here.
For more information about the primary Tools, please click here.
If you have any enquiries about the Progression Tools please
contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.