Achieving Early is a two-year, coaching-based improvement programme for early years practitioners, which in this trial will be delivered to nursery and Reception classes in schools. It uses specialist early years coaches to conduct monthly visits to train practitioners and improve pupil outcomes. During initial visits, the trained coach meets the early years leaders in school and conducts a needs analysis. This is used to design a bespoke action plan. Coaches then support a nominated champion to deliver the action plan in subsequent visits.
Action plans focus specifically on four areas: 1) leadership and management; 2) progress and learning; 3) health, happiness and well-being; and 4) working together to improve parental engagement. Also included is online support and one meeting per term of peer-to-peer support
This project is co-funded by the EEF and the Department for Education as part of our Early Years professional development funding round.
There is good evidence that the quality of early years education has an important impact on a range of developmental outcomes. However, we know much less about how to train early years staff and settings to improve this quality. One area of promise identified by reviews of the evidence is coaching
This evaluation of Achieving Early will robustly evaluate the impact of a well-established coaching programme that has already been delivered in over 250 early years settings in England
While the programme has not yet been rigorously evaluated, elements of the model are also targeted at areas associated with improving outcomes in the early years
One of the four key themes, working together, is targeted at parental engagement, associated with an additional +4 months’ progress in our Early Years Toolkit; while the progress and learning strand targets communication and language, associated with an additional +6 months’ progress in the Early Years Toolkit.
The programme is also closely aligned to the core mission of the EEF, explicitly aiming to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their counterparts
The programme will be evaluated by a team from NFER using a randomised control trial. This will be an efficacy trial, meaning that the programme will be tested with the developer closely involved. It will measure the impact of Achieving Early on the language skills of target children in each setting, in addition to assessing the impact of the programme on a variety of Early Learning Goals for all children in the setting.
The evaluation will also include an implementation and process evaluation, which will analyse how the programme is implemented across different settings and the barriers and facilitators to implementation
The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2023.
If you express interest in this project, the EEF’s project delivery partner and evaluation partner will use your contact details for the purposes of recruitment to the project. Your contact details will not be used for any other purposes and will be deleted when no longer needed. A full privacy notice will be shared together with the recruitment documents. More information about data protection in EEF evaluations can be found here.