Improving language in the early years

Monday, April 18, 2016

Category: News

The Department of Education has been awarded a grant of £900,000 by the Education Endowment Foundation to implement and test an early years intervention designed to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

The programme aims to improve children’s language and social-behavioural outcomes, by training nursery and reception teachers to use self-assessment tools called the Environment Rating Scales (ERS). These scales are highly regarded research tools used for assessing the quality of early years settings, and known to predict children’s development in early years and beyond. They provide a framework for observers to assess elements of early years practice including support for children’s language, thinking and social skills, adult-child interactions, learning activities/resources and assessment and planning for learning.

The core model that will be tested in this programme involves 5 days of training delivered to early years teachers over 5 months, with a follow-up day 3 months later. Teachers will be taught the principles of using research tools to improve practice in their classes, and how to support children’s development through evidence-based practice. They will also receive mentoring to help them apply the training in practice. The intervention is being led by Sandra Mathers from the University of Oxford and Professor Iram Siraj from UCL Institute of Education, in collaboration with the early years training and support organisation A+ Education.

A team from the Behavioural Insights Team and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research has been appointed to conduct the evaluation of the programme. The evaluation will be structured as a two-armed randomised control trial involving 120 primary schools with nursery classes. 60 schools will be allocated to receive the intervention and 60 to a business as usual control group.

Read more about the project on the EEF website