An update on the commissioned trial of Early Talk Boost with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) 

February 15, 2024

Early Talk Boost is our catch-up programme for three to four-year-olds who are behind with talking and understanding words and it helps them to boost their language skills. It was designed by our specialist teachers, speech and language therapists and with help from early years staff and parents. It is informed by strong evidence and a recent study showed its positive impact on children’s ability to talk and understand words.

In March 2023, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) commissioned an evaluation of the programme. The independent evaluation was funded through their work with the Department for Education’s Stronger Practice Hubs.

This was to see how Early Talk Boost works for three-and-four-year-olds in nurseries. Children that needed extra support with their language skills received the programme.

To kick-off the evaluation, evaluators from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), collected data from nurseries that signed up in the Autumn term of 2023. This was to identify those children who needed additional support with their language skills in participating nurseries, and to find out what stage their language skills were at before receiving our Early Talk Boost programme.

However, the data collection was more challenging than expected.  We supported the evaluation partner to explore different ways that they could deliver their evaluation. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to the complex evaluation design and the challenges identified during data collection. Because of this, it has been agreed to stop the evaluation for the time being.

Nurseries that have taken part will receive thank you payments funded by the EEF and those that signed up can receive our Early Talk Boost programme this year, thanks to funding from the Stronger Practice Hubs. We will continue to deliver the training, materials and support.

EEF is currently looking into recommissioning an evaluation of Early Talk Boost. This will give early years providers information about the impact of the programme and how to run it.

In the meantime, we will keep collecting data from Early Talk Boost, to help us track children’s progress with their language skills. So far, over 8,000 children have taken part with almost 93% of children making some progress and 45% of these children fully catching up to children of the same age.