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The Derbyshire Language Scheme

  • Although the Derbyshire Language Scheme is an intervention programme, it consists of a whole range of materials aimed at the assessment and intervention of early language skills and the programme gives a progress record.
  • It’s highly structured, with carefully graded objectives starting from single words and moving to long complex sentences.
  • The assessments link directly with teaching activities.
  • The assessment materials consist of a rapid screening test and a detailed test of comprehension. In both tests, receptive and expressive skills are probed alongside one another. Both toys and picture books are used as the stimuli.
  • The Derbyshire Scheme is based around the concept of ‘information carrying words’, the number of words that must be understood in order to carry out a command. For example, saying ‘put teddy under the table’ – this consists of three information carrying words, providing that there’s a choice of teddy/another toy; in/on/under; and table/other furniture. This gives the ‘word level’ that the child is working at.

Age range

Suitable for a wide age range of children. No minimum or maximum age is given.

Who can use it?

Not specified, but there’s a three day course that a range of professionals can attend to learn how to use the scheme.

How is it used?

The rapid screening test is used to determine the level at which the detailed test should begin.

Its contents include the user manual, the transfer of results booklet, picture test booklet, rapid screening test, action pictures for rapid screening test, detailed test of comprehension, assessment summary and progress record booklet. 

What can it tell us?

  • How many information carrying words a child can understand and use in a phrase during a structured task.
  • The level of a child’s early grammar.
  • The scheme has an assessment summary which can be used to chart progress.
  • The scheme gives detailed information on which language goals are an appropriate next step and on activities that can be used to promote the understanding/use of this level of language/these particular structures.


  • The scheme provides a whole intervention programme/activities to follow on from assessment.
  • Can be used to measure progress, but is not standardised.
  • The concept of ‘information carrying words’ can be used in English or BSL. The assessment materials could be used in spoken English, SSE or BSL.


  • This assessment isn’t standardised and so can’t give standard scores, percentile ranks or age-equivalent scores.
  • The early grammar section of the Detailed Test of Comprehension is not designed with BSL grammar in mind.
  • Need to attend training course.

Is there a cost? 


Where can I access it?

You can access the assessment on the Derbyshire Language Scheme website.