One of the most important things we will ever learn, is how to communicate with others, listening attentively and expressing ourselves in return. Developing language underpins the ability to think and impacts all other learning. Therefore language development is a major focus for learning in the Early Years. This is described in the EYFS programme of study for Communication and Language:

Communication and Language

Our staff have developed great knowledge and skill in supporting children’s communication and language. They work with each child on an individual basis, planning individual next steps, which enable each child to have just the right experiences and support to further their skills in understanding and speaking English.

Our staff have been trained in Signalong, based on British Sign Language and similar to Makaton. Staff use these hand signs, along with the spoken word to help our children access language and new vocabulary.

 Signalong for “apple”


At Abercromby we have about 60-70% of children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL) and we encourage our families to keep on supporting their children’s acquisition of their home language. These children actually have an advantage over children who just speak one language. There is evidence that people who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills.


We are part of the North West URLEY project which aims to increase practitioner confidence and skill in supporting children’s communication and language development. As one of the lead schools we worked on improving our own practice, whilst also mentoring other settings on their own journey of self improvement. URLEY stands for Using Research to improve Language in the Early Years.

We encourage staff and families to adopt the three URLEY principles of effective language teaching and support:


1. being a magnet      2. being a radiator

and 3. being a conversationalist

The poster below explains what these look like in practice.

URLEY Language Learning Principles


One of our improvements in practice through the URLEY project was a sharper focus on how we use books to promote language development. Our poster below celebrates how a more strategic approach to sharing books supports children’s language development.