The Education Endowment Foundation, as the Department for Education's Evidence Partner for the Stronger Practice Hubs programme, is working with Hubs to fund evidence-based professional development programmes for early years settings.
By taking part, early years settings can:
- Access free professional development for staff.
- Deliver high-potential programmes that support children’s learning and development.
- Help build the evidence base to support colleagues to improve learning and development.
The programmes include:
- Talk with Tales with Children (TWiTCH): Developed by Sheffield Hallam University, this approach supports early years staff to optimise their daily story time and provide discussion-based activities to promote children’s language development. The programme will receive a pilot evaluation led by Durham University
- Communication Friendly Home-Based Settings: developed by Elklan, will give childminders training to improve their provision and practice to support their children’s language skills. Two versions of the programme will be piloted to understand which is most feasible. The evaluation will be led by University of York and University of Sheffield.
- A version of this programme, Communication Friendly Settings: will also be tested across nurseries. Elklan trains two staff in the setting to become experts in supporting children’s speech, language and communication skills. These champions then help other staff with their practice and enable the setting to be accredited as ‘communication friendly. The trial will be delivered by University of York and University of Sheffield
- Early Years Conversion Project (EYCP): Delivered by Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre, the programme aims to develop staff’s interactions with children to improve the language skills of two- and three-year-olds. The programme will be evaluated through a trial delivered by Durham University.
- Concept Cat: This approach focuses on teaching vocabulary and supporting staff to teach high frequency concepts such as most, large and near. The programme was developed by the speech and language therapists behind Word Aware and is being delivered in collaboration with Better Communication CIC. The programme will be evaluated through a trial delivered by RAND Europe.
- Early Talk Boost: Designed and delivered by Speech and Language UK, this 9‑week programme is targeted at three- and four-year-olds identified as needing additional teaching to support talking and understanding words. The programme will be evaluated through a trial delivered by IES.
- Tales Toolkit: This programme supports staff to implement weekly oral storytelling and story scribing sessions using visual resources that promote a child’s understanding of how to structure a story. The programme will receive a pilot evaluation led by IES.
- The ONE Programme: delivered by staff at the University of Oxford and University of Sheffield, this programme trains early years staff to engage groups of young children in play-based activities to support both early numeracy and executive function skills. The programme will be evaluated through a trial delivered by RAND Europe.
- Learning Language and Loving It: This programme, delivered by Communicate CIC, provides practical strategies that can be easily woven into everyday activities that help all children build language and social skills. These strategies include encouraging children to initiate and engage in conversational interaction, encouraging extended individual and group conversations between adults and children, and modelling more sophisticated language. A trial of this programme is underway and delivered by Natcen.
- Maths Champions: developed by NDNA the programme trains two staff in the setting to develop the quality of maths provision in their setting, and build the confidence and skills of the practitioners working with children. Maths Champions are supported to audit current practice and create and implement an action plan. A trial of this programme is underway and delivered by York Trials Unit.
As part of this work, the EEF is helping support the development of more programmes in the Early Years. EEF and SPH’s are funding access to 18 of these early-stage programmes covering Communication and Language and PSED. These early-stage programmes will be available to 8-12 settings, who will receive the programme and be expected to provide feedback to contribute to their further development.
More programmes will be added to the SPH offer in September and November. This follows the ongoing work to identify and support development of, and access to, early years programmes especially for PVI settings and childminders.