Education Endowment Foundation:Manor Park Talks

Manor Park Talks

Sheringham Nursery School
Project info

Independent Evaluator

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Based on Every Child a Talker, a course of training for early years staff which helps them to identify and support children with early language development
Schools: 8 Grant: £97,800
Key Stage: EY Duration: 1 year(s) 8 month(s) Type of Trial: Pilot Study
Completed July 2020

Manor Park Talks is based on Every Child a Talker (ECAT), a course of training for early years staff which helps them to identify and support children with early language development difficulties including through resources and audit tools. The intervention aims to create pedagogical change in the settings through a set of core strategies that practitioners can be trained to deliver, whilst also aiming to achieve impact without significantly increasing practitioner workload.

Studies of communication and language approaches consistently show positive benefits for young children’s learning, including their spoken language skills, their expressive vocabulary and their early reading skills. ECAT is a widely used programme in the early years sector, but there is substantial variation in how it is now implemented and supported

The ECAT programme has been widely used since its introduction as part of the National Strategies, but has not been rigorously evaluated and there appears to be wide variation in how it is now implemented. As part of this pilot, Sheringham Nursery School partnered with UCL Institute of Education to update the ECAT programme manual and provide a more structured approach to implementation for settings in Newham

Our pilot of Manor Park Talks involved 8 nursery settings in Newham. The independent evaluation found that the full set of 5 strategies that practitioners were initially introduced to was perceived to be daunting. The formative nature of the evaluation meant that these emerging findings were shared with the developers, and the decision was made that MPT was primarily an intervention about conversational responsiveness and the specific techniques to improve this

Practitioners reported that the revised version of Manor Park Talks focusing on specific conversational responsiveness techniques was easier to apply than the full set of strategies set out in the initial design. This pilot was funded by EEF to see whether the intervention was ready to be delivered across all nurseries in Newham. The evaluation concluded that the revised intervention could be implemented across all settings in Newham.


Is there evidence to support the theory of change?


Practitioners reported being more reflective of their own practice than before being part of the programme, finding opportunities for one-to-one interactions with children based on MPT techniques, with reported improvements in children’s language and communication.

There is some evidence to suggest that staff were engaging more in conversations with children and felt more confident in doing so. Staff reported that shy children seemed to engage more in conversation as a result of staff using conversational responsiveness techniques. As implementation was often phased, with nurseries choosing to focus on one to two specific techniques at any one point in time, an overall assessment of success cannot be made.

Is the approach feasible to deliver?


The pilot of the Manor Park Talks programme demonstrated to managers that there was a knowledge gap and an interest in learning new ways of improving children’s early language and communication. The interviews suggest that settings continued to deliver MPT techniques in a flexible way throughout the school year with some indication that they were becoming embedded in daily practice.

This formative evaluation helped the developers to refine the intervention so that it would be more appealing to early years practitioners. The revised version of MPT focuses on conversational responsiveness and was therefore easier to apply than the full set of strategies outlined in the initial design. MPT is replicable in its current form although further clarity is needed on the role of mentors.

Is the intervention ready for scaling up across Newham?


Based on staff reports, we know that nurseries were continuing to apply the MPT techniques that they had learned, albeit in a range of ways. The revised intervention focusing only on conversational responsiveness can be implemented across all settings in Newham.