Early Talk Boost research project with EEF

Welcome to the information page for the Early Talk Boost research project in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

Did you know that there are currently 1.9 million children in the UK who are struggling with their talking and understanding of words?  At Speech and Language UK, we give children and young people the skills they need so they aren’t left behind, waiting to be understood.

Our Talk Boost programmes help children develop speech and language skills they can use for the rest of their lives. They have been created with professionals and backed by the best evidence, so children get exactly the right level of support and challenge they need.

 Register your interest 

  • What is Early Talk Boost?

    Being able to talk and understand words are key skills for young children, enabling them to access all areas of the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

    Early Talk Boost 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 EYFS.

    The Early Talk Boost intervention 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 around 6-8 pupils in each setting.

    Early years practitioners are provided with:

    • Five hours of live online training
    • Three support sessions from an Early Talk Boost Tutor
    • An Early Talk Boost manual and resources pack
    • Guidance for engaging parents and carers
    • Access to an online tracker used to assess children’s progress.
  • Who is Early Talk Boost for?

    Early Talk Boost is for 3-to 4-year-olds who struggle with talking and understanding of words.

    These children may have:

    • Difficulty listening/paying attention
    • Poor vocabulary
    • Difficulty understanding language
    • Difficulty organising and using language
    • Immature sentences
    • Difficulty explaining or describing
    • Difficulty taking turns
  • Why should my setting get involved?

    This research project funded by the EEF aims to support education recovery following the pandemic, whilst also developing our understanding of effective professional development in the early years.

    In a small randomised controlled trial that was conducted in 2014-15, children made additional progress after the nine-week intervention, helping them to catch up with other children their age.

    This research aims to evaluate the intervention on a larger scale to establish stronger evidence of Early Talk Boost’s effectiveness, and in turn support more children.

    The study is being carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). Delivery of the intervention is funded by the East of England Early Years Stronger Practice Hub and the South West Early Years Stronger Practice Hub.

  • Is my setting eligible?

    Settings in the following Local Authorities can take part in the study: Cambridgeshire, Essex, Southend on Sea, Norfolk, Peterborough, Suffolk, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Plymouth, Torbay, Walsall and Dudley.

    Both private, voluntary and independent (PVI) and maintained nurseries (either stand alone or as part of a primary school) are eligible. Settings can only sign up to receive one funded stronger practice hub programme between 2022-2025. For further information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/early-years-stronger-practice-hubs.

    To take part you need to be able to:

    • Commit two practitioners to attend the training.
    • Deliver the intervention over 3 sessions per week for 9 weeks.
    • Have at least 8 children who are aged between 3-and 4-years-old (date of birth must fall between 1 December 2019 and 1 October 2020).

    You can’t take part if your setting:

    • Already runs Early Talk Boost groups.
    • Is taking part in any other early years trials funded by EEF or a similar funder.
    • Children are not eligible if they have significant SEND, which would prevent them from accessing the assessment and/or would be distressed through completing the assessment and taking part in the intervention.
  • How much does it cost?

    The study is funded as part of the Department for Education’s early years recovery programme. The East of England Early Years Stronger Practice Hub, EY South West Early Years Stronger Practice Hub and EEF are working together to fund early years settings’ access to evidence-informed programmes and study the programmes’ influence on practice and children’s outcomes.

    If your setting meets the criteria, it is free to take part. Settings will receive an Early Talk Boost intervention pack worth £500. EEF will also reimburse settings for approximately 50% of their staff’s time/cover costs to attend training.

  • How do I sign-up?

    If you would like to register your interest please complete this form.

  • Further documents/information

    Data collection
    Further info for research study settings

    Data collection
    Speech and Language UK are the independent controller for the data they are collecting as part of recruitment of settings and for programme delivery. Their legal basis for processing this data is legitimate interest.

    Privacy notice for parents/carers:
    Programmes Tracker Privacy Notice

    Privacy notices for settings:
    Speech and Language UK Data Protection Policy
    Programmes Tracker Privacy Notice


    For further information about the research project visit Education Endowment Foundation.

  • Answers to common questions

    Please click here to view answers to common questions.


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