Manor Park Talks
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.
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
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.
Full project description
Manor Park Talks (MPT) is a professional development programme developed and delivered by Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in the London Borough of Newham. The programme focuses on training aimed at improving the skills and expertise of the early years workforce in supporting children’s early language development. Trained staff are expected to apply their learning to the key target group—disadvantaged children in receipt of Free Early Education Entitlement at age two (FEEE2).
The MPT pilot programme consisted of training for managers and practitioners to support the implementation of a whole-setting approach to promoting children’s early language development and communication. The full set of training and support activities is listed in Table 1 (page 9 of the evaluation report). The independent training consultants delivered training in two stages: a full-day launch event for all nursery managers and a full-day ‘bespoke’ training session at each participating nursery involving all staff.
During the training, early years staff were taught to listen to children and develop conversations with them using five strategies:
- conversational responsiveness;
- interactive book-reading;
- using songs, rhymes, and stories to support expressive language;
- print referencing to support emergent literacy; and
- listening to sounds.
The aim of the pilot was to understand the feasibility and acceptability of the programme and to develop and refine the logic model of the intervention. A formative evaluation was conducted using qualitative methods: observations of training and coaching sessions and in-depth interviews with managers and staff at participating nurseries. Interviews with the trainers and coach were also conducted. Due to the small number of nurseries taking part and the focus of the formative evaluation on reviewing and refining the intervention, the findings and implications are not generalisable.
This pilot trial was co-funded by the Department for Education as part of the EEF’s Early Years Professional Development Funding round. It was co-funded with the KPMG Foundation.