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.

accessibility

Early Years

Key stage

local_library-1

English

Subject

EEF Summary

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.

Research Results

Question

Comment

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.

Evaluation info

Schools

8

Pupils

-

Key Stage

Early Years

Start date

November 2018

End date

July 2020

Type of trial

Pilot Study


  1. Updated: 16th July, 2020

    Printable project summary

    1 MB pdf - EEF-manor-park-talks.pdf

  2. Updated: 16th July, 2020

    Pilot Report

    2 MB pdf - MPT_Pilot_Report_(final).pdf

  3. Updated: 7th February, 2019

    Evaluation Plan

    208 KB pdf - Manor_Park_Talks_evaluation_plan.pdf

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:[1]

  • 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.