Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years

Using Research Tools to Improve Language in the Early Years (URLEY) is designed to improve young children’s oral language skills through evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners. The approach involves using research tools (the Environment Rating Scales and others) as a framework for self-evaluation and improvement.

URLEY was developed by the University of Oxford and A+ Education Ltd and is currently being evaluated as part of a large-scale randomised controlled trial, funded by the EEF and involving one hundred and twenty two schools. Nursery and reception class teachers from 62 schools took part in the year-long programme in 2017. They attended six training workshops and received individual in-class support. During the same period, 60 schools continued with ‘business as usual’ as part of a control group. The effects of the programme are being evaluated by an external team (BIT/NIESR). Children’s language skills are being assessed at the start and end of the programme (approximately 1,700 children) to evaluate whether children in URLEY schools do better than children in control group schools. Changes in children’s social and behavioural development are also being assessed.