Education Endowment Foundation:Early Talk Boost (2023 trial)

Early Talk Boost (2023 trial)

Speech and Language UK

A small group communication and language intervention for 3 – 4‑year-old children.

Independent Evaluator

The Institute for Employment Studies

Sign-up deadline

30 November, 2023 at 12:00am

Key Stages

Early Years

Setting places


Regions available

Early Talk Boost is a small group language intervention aimed at three- to four-year-old children. 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 Curriculum (EYFS). Early Talk Boost is designed to help support children who need a targeted approach to catch up with their peers. 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.

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 delivering the programme 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, and access to an online tracker used to assess children’s progress.

As part of the Department for Education’s Early Years Recovery Programme, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is working with Stronger Practice Hubs across England to fund Early Years settings’ access to evidence-informed programmes and study the programme’s influence on practice and children’s outcomes. This initiative aims to support education recovery following the pandemic, whilst also developing our understanding of effective professional development in the early years.

The EEF is working with the East of England Early Years Stronger Practice Hub and Early Years South West Stronger Practice Hub to fund settings’ access to Early Talk Boost and evaluate the programme through an efficacy trial. There is wider evidence that approaches similar to those used in the Early Talk Boost programme can support children’s language development and a small trial of Early Talk Boost led by the programme developer previously found positive impacts on children’s language development. By commissioning a rigorous independent evaluation of Early Talk Boost in a large number of settings, we aim to produce robust evidence of the impact of Early Talk Boost and further the evidence-base on how children’s language development can be supported.

The EEF has commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies to conduct an independent evaluation of the Early Talk Boost programme. The evaluation will be a randomised waitlist controlled trial evaluating the impact of Early Talk Boost on 3 – 4‑year-old children’s language outcomes. Early Years settings recruited to take part in this research project will be randomly allocated either to an intervention group, receiving the programme in Spring 2024, or to a waitlist control group receiving the programme in Autumn 2024. This efficacy trial will evaluate whether children who receive the Early Talk Boost programme in Spring 2024 make additional progress in their language development compared to children who have not yet received the programme.

An implementation and process evaluation will also be conducted to explore how the programme is implemented in settings and practitioners’ experiences of the programme. This will include interviews, surveys and observations or programme delivery conducted in a small number of case study settings.

Maintained nurseries and Private, Voluntary and Independent early year years settings in the following Local Authorities can register their interest in taking part in this research project: Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; Cambridgeshire, Cornwall; Devon; Dorset; Dudley; Essex; Peterborough; Plymouth; Torbay; Norfolk; Southend-on-Sea; Suffolk; Walsall.

To register your interest, please fill in the form below.

Kent Early Years Stronger Practice Hub, Northern Lights Early Years Stronger Practice Hub and Thrive Together Early Years Stronger Practice Hub are also funding early years settings to access Early Talk Boost at a subsidised rate in some local authorities. For further information, please contact KEYSPH@​theeducationpeople.​org for settings based in the South East, eyhub@​nllt.​co.​uk for settings in the North East or n.​davies@​ryders-​hayes.​co.​uk for settings in the West Midlands.