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EIF maturity matrix: Speech, language and communication in the early years

This version of the EIF maturity matrix is designed to support a system-wide approach to improving outcomes for children in the early years, with a focus on speech, language and communication skills.

Maturity matrix



The early years are a critical time for all children to develop strong cognitive, social and emotional foundations. Early language acquisition impacts on all aspects of young children’s development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write.

As speech and language is both an essential building block for a range of cognitive and social and emotional skills, and predictive of a range of later-life issues. This means it is an excellent way of assessing typical development in the early years – a primary indicator of child wellbeing and social mobility.

This EIF maturity matrix includes: 

  • A brief overview of the evidence on early language development.
  • An introduction to using a systemic approach to improve speech, language and communication outcomes for children.
  • Descriptors for 10 key elements which make up an early intervention system which is focused on speech, language and communication outcomes for children in the early years.
  • A recording sheet, user guide and single-page summary of the maturity matrix.

Summary of the maturity matrix (click to expand)

About the contributors

Ben Lewing

Ben is assistant director, policy & practice, at EIF.

Dr Kirsten Asmussen

Kirsten is head of what works, child development, at EIF.

Jean Gross CBE

Jean is an EIF associate.