Education Endowment Foundation:Early stage programme development

Early stage programme development

Read about our work supporting organisations to design, develop, and deliver education programmes.

Our new early-stage programme development work supports organisations to design, develop and deliver programmes that tackle educational disadvantage. 

We want to help create new programmes that feed into the evidence pipeline. Our aim is to increase the number of evidence-based programmes available to schools, nurseries and post-16 settings.

How it works

If you have an idea for an evidence-informed programme or have designed a programme that’s in an early stage of development, you can apply for early-stage programme development support through some of our funding rounds. Our Research School Network will also develop their own early-stage programmes

Each programme developer will get:

  • a structured process and resources to aid programme design and the collection of early formative feedback;
  • understanding of the evidence around the content area and around implementation and professional development, and
  • a fixed grant to support development.

Through this support, developers will:

  • design and develop their programme and programme materials;
  • design tools to collect feedback from participating schools and settings;
  • lead the recruitment of schools/​settings to participate;
  • deliver their programme and collect feedback; and collect insights and overall reflections on delivery.

Iterative Improvement

We want to encourage iterative improvement at this early stage of programme development, so we’ve built in two cycles of support:

: Support to design programmes based on initial ideas and concepts so they can be tried out in a small number of schools or settings, usually around five or six.

: Support to adapt and package programmes so they are ready to be delivered in around eight to 12 settings. 

What happens next?

After a programme has been through the innovation or development stage, we will consider if it is ready for progression through EEF’s evidence pipeline through assessment against our readiness for pilot criteria. These include the level of development/​codification, the evidence supporting its theory of change, indicatiosn of feasibility and acceptability, difference to business as usual, the capacity of the delivery team. We don’t expect to continue to support all the projects but we do have an aspiration that some will move to a EEF pilot evaluation working with an independent evaluator to understand the feasibility of the programmes.

The EEF guide to supporting early-stage programme development

Five key lessons to help others in developing or refining programmes, or adapting existing programmes to new contexts.

These nine development projects were led by the Research Schools Network and funded through the Department for Education’s Accelerator Fund. Research Schools were invited to take part through an Expression of Interest process. 

Research School development programmes

One cycle of development projects were led by the Research Schools Network and funded through the Department for Education’s Accelerator Fund. These programmes were supported through the previous ESPD round.

The concurrent cycle of development projects were led by external delivery teams who initially applied for pilot funding through an open funding round theme in early language/​early maths, and were offered the opportunity to considered for a development cycle instead. Part of these projects – the funding to support participation of settings – was funded through the DfE’s Stronger Practice Hubs work.

Early Years development programmes

Apply for funding

Find out more and apply for funding