New trial will evaluate Talking Time programme for Early Years practitioners

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Category: News

Illustration of children and wording "Enhancing oral language in the early years"

Early Years practitioners across the UK are invited to take part in an evaluation of Talking Time©, an intervention programme which empowers staff to enhance oral language in the early years.

Talking Time© supports Early Years practitioners to deliver engaging, structured, small-group activities to three- to five-year-olds, aiming to enhance early oral language through high-quality interactions and conversations. The programme has been developed by leading academics at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education and UCL’s Institute of Education, and has been shown to enhance children’s oral language and staff practice. An independent evaluation of the programme will be conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, with funding from the Education Endowment Foundation.

The Talking Time© team are seeking 130 settings to take part. Settings allocated to the ‘intervention’ group will receive the programme at no cost. Settings allocated to the ‘control’ group will receive a payment as a thank you for taking part, which they can use to access programme resources once the research is complete.

Dr Sandra Mathers, Departmental Lecturer at the University of Oxford and Talking Time© co-lead, said: “Talking Time© is all about having high quality conversations with children to support their language learning. One of the key features is the flexibility of the programme. The embedded professional development supports educators to adapt Talking Time© to their individual contexts and children”.

Early Years settings in parts of London, the Northwest, East of England, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber are being offered the chance to get involved with the evaluation study. State and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) group settings are eligible to take part.

Professor Julie Dockrell, Professor of Psychology and Special Needs at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education & Society said: “We hope particularly to work with settings in socially deprived areas, and support them in improving children’s oral language development.”

Want to get involved? Read the information sheet and fill out the Expression of Interest form.

A series of webinars led by Dr Sandra Mathers and the Talking Time© team will provide practitioners with an introduction to the study. See the dates of the webinars and register on the Talking Time website.