First and Foremost

Child speaking

First and Foremost programme

The Early Years Alliance is delivering speech and language support to children in eight local authority areas as part of the government’s drive to improve social mobility and the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children.

The First and Foremost programme leverages the Alliance’s successful experience of liaison with local authority, health and social work provision in Luton, Southend and Lewisham and extends it to North Yorkshire, Leeds, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Lincolnshire.

Working with 10 early years settings in each area, 1,600 children and families will benefit from targeted support and 3,200 will access expert information and guidance, online support and community language information.

At the heart of the project are resources and advice for childcare providers to support children’s early language and communication development, and guidance on how parents can continue this work in the home.

Practitioners in a number of settings are being trained to screen possible delays in children’s communication, and on what measures to take if moderate delays are detected that do not require the input of speech and language therapists. 

Outreach engagement forms a third tier of the project, and aims to reach 540 families whose children could benefit from targeted language development support but who are not currently accessing early education.


To learn more about First and Foremost email the Alliance's Director of Quality Improvement Michael Freeston on

Or to talk to the Alliance about potential new partnerships please email our Development Services department on


Child in headphonesRelated resources

EduCare course

Speech, Language and Communication in the Early Years (CACHE-endorsed)

The purpose of this course is to explain what is meant by speech, language and communication, how we communicate and how we can enable and promote good communication skills that prepare children for their next stage.

To access this course

Alliance members: Log into your EduCare account and get this course FREE as part of your membership


Supporting children's speech, language and communication development — This is the first webinar in the First and Foremost series, supported by the Department for Education. This webinar provides an overview of the importance of speech and language, offering practical ideas to help you support all children in your settings. The session is chaired by Michael Freeston, director of quality Improvement at the Alliance, with expert input from Isobel Wratislaw, specialist speech and language therapist and Lynsey Weston, communications and language advisor.

Watch now

Lost for Words: Promoting a broad vocabulary for all children — In this essential webinar — the second in the First and Foremost series — speech and communication specialists Sian Ansell and Lynsey Weston explore how young children acquire words and why their vocabulary is so important for their future success. The session combines theory with practical advice to support early years practitioners' understanding of this vital area of their work and offer suggestions on how to improve their skills.

Watch now

Super Sounds — This is the third webinar in the series. It develops early years practitioners' confidence and skills to support children with speech, language and communication needs. This informative, entertaining and interactive session explores young children's sound development and typical delays, and dispels some common speech and language myths. Our specialist speech and language team Isobel Wratislaw, Lynsey Weston and Sian Ansell look at those tricky sounds and structures that cause concerns for parents and practitioners.

Watch now

First and foremost play cards

First and Foremost Play Cards for Parents 

The new First and Foremost Play Cards for Parents provide parents with ideas and activities that they can do with their child in different everyday situations, highlighting the important role of the adult in supporting children as they practice and develop new language skills.

With suggested starting points for opportunities to engage children in exciting, challenging and child-initiated play, Play Cards for the Childcare Environment are also available.

To support parental engagement and build stronger links between the setting and the home, try our Play Cards for the Home Environment.



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