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Executive summary: Evaluation of the Eager and Able to Learn programme for two-three year old children


Eager and Able to Learn (EAL) is a new pilot programme designed by Early Years - the organisation for young children in Northern Ireland, and targeted at 2-3 year old children in early years settings. It aims to improve young children's eagerness and ability to learn through enhancing their physical, social, emotional, and linguistic development. The programme places a particular emphasis on physical movement, on the physical design of early childhood programme settings, and on relationships - the practitioner/child relationship, the parent/child relationship and the partnership between the parent and the practitioner to support young children's development. The theory of change underpinning the programme is that movement provides a natural context for children of this age to develop. The programme has a group-based element, which involves a series of developmental movement and play activities, and a home-based element including home visits, which encourages parents to explore play activities with their children in the home environment. A Senior Early Years Specialist (SEYS) was assigned to each setting to provide: (1) initial training in programme implementation for practitioners; (2) a series of support visits and cluster sessions for practitioners throughout the year; and (3) workshops for parents of children who participated in the programme. In addition, practitioners were given a service design manual to guide them through the delivery of all aspects of the programme. A home learning package for parents was provided. An interdisciplinary research team comprising the Centre for Effective Education at Queen's University Belfast, the National Children's Bureau (NCB) Northern Ireland and Stranmillis University College, was commissioned by Early Years to undertake a series of studies including: 1) a baseline survey of the developmental status of 2-3 year old children entering group-based settings and a baseline survey of the quality of the settings; and 2) a rigorous and independent evaluation of the Eager and Able to Learn programme. The evaluation took the form of a cluster trial using a partial-cross-over design, led by the Centre for Effective Education with the School of Psychology at Queen's, and a fidelity implementation study, led by NCB. The findings from the baseline surveys and both elements of the evaluation are presented in three detailed reports that are freely available to download. (author abstract)

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Executive Summary

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Executive Summary

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Reports & Papers
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