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Speech and Language UK launch research trial of Early Talk Boost in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation

March 29, 2023

Speech and Language UK are pleased to announce the launch of a new research project in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and co-funded with the Department for Education’s East of England Early Years Stronger Practice Hub and the South West Early Years Stronger Practice Hub. 

Beginning in Spring 2023, 132 nurseries and early years settings across England will be invited to take part in an evaluation of Speech and Language UK’s Early Talk Boost programme – a 9-week programme that supports three and four-year-olds identified as needing additional support with their talking and understanding of words.  

The aim of the research project is to build on an existing evidence base for Early Talk Boost through an independent evaluation commissioned by the EEF and to increase reach of Early Talk Boost, ensuring increased support for children who need it. 

Speech and Language UK’s Early Talk Boost programme is one of eight new projects focusing on early language development that EEF will be evaluating. 

Jane Harris Speech and Language UK Chief Executive said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with Education Endowment Foundation to evaluate the impact of our Early Talk Boost programme. At least 1.7 million children are behind with talking and understanding words and the early years workforce must be given the right skills, training, and tools to support children in pre-school and early primary years. That’s why it’s important that our Early Talk Boost programme is backed by robust, independent evaluation to learn about how we can help children develop speech and language skills they can use throughout their lives.” 

Findings from Speech and Language UK’s own pilot of Early Talk Boost has demonstrated early promise in a study that showed children make significant progress in talking and understanding of words.* 

For further information on the Early Talk Boost research project, visit:   



Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries, contact Simon Walsh, Speech and Language UK Press Manager via / 07824 446989. 

The Early Talk Boost research project has been co-funded with the Department for Education’s Stronger Practice Hubs and are a major part of the EEF’s increased focus on support for the early years sector. 

 * Reeves, L., Hartshorne, M., Black, R., Atkinson, J., Baxter, A., & Pring, T. (2018). Early talk boost: A targeted intervention for three-year-old children with delayed language development. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 34(1), 53–62.  

Research from Speech and Language UK = (Sample size=51 children from active settings and 29 children from control settings) 

  • 95% (n=37) of parents felt that Early Talk Boost had made a difference to their children’s language and communication. They felt they had learnt something by being involved in the programme, and would change how they talked to their child
  • 76% (n=28) children said that they were happy telling stories (31% before).
  • Samples of children’s talking showed they used longer and more complicated sentences
  • After Early Talk Boost training, all practitioners surveyed felt more confident in supporting children’s language and 94% (n=16) said it would change the way they worked.

What is Early Talk Boost? 

Early Talk Boost is a targeted intervention aimed at 3–4-year-old children with difficulties talking and understanding words boosting their language skills to help narrow the gap between them and their peers. It is designed to help support children who need a targeted approach to catch up with their peers, enabling them to access all areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  

Early Talk Boost has been designed by Speech and Language UK specialist teachers and speech and language therapists, with the help of early years practitioners and parents. It is informed by strong evidence and has demonstrated early promise in a study that showed impact on children’s ability to talk and understand words. The intervention is 9 weeks long and comprises of three 15–20-minute sessions a week. It is usually delivered to groups of around 6-8 pupils in each setting. Training and materials to run the groups is provided by Speech and Language UK.