Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

Skip to main content

A fidelity and implementation study of the Eager and Able to Learn programme


The EAL programme is a service designed by Early Years and targeted at two-year-old children. 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, the physical design of early childhood programme settings, the practitioner/child relationship, the parent/child relationship and the partnership between the parent and the practitioner in support of the young children's development, Early Years theory of change and that movement provides a more 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, which encourages parents to explore play activities with their children in the home environment. Between September 2008 and June 2009, the EAL programme was piloted in 14 settings with two-year-olds across Northern Ireland comprising private day-care nurseries and Sure Start programmes. Drawing on the learning from this pilot a number of changes were made to the service design. Following the pilot year, between September 2009 and June 2010, the programme was rolled out in a further 28 early years settings - 18 day care nurseries which were a mix of private businesses and social economy settings and 10 Sure Start programmes. Sure Start programmes and day care providers differ in several ways, namely: Sure Start programmes for two year olds generally operate for 2.5 hours per day, four or five days per week with a play and stay session for parents over the course of an academic year. Day care settings generally operate for a full day, five days per week all year round. Sure Start programmes operate a range of parental engagement activities such as home visiting whereas this would not be common practice in day care settings. Sure Start settings are located in areas of high deprivation, though the service is a universal one, open to all who live in the area. Sure Start programmes have a static group of children for an entire academic year whereas in day care settings some children move from the two year old room during the year. A research team comprising representatives from NCB NI (National Children's Bureau Northern Ireland), Queens University Belfast and Stranmillis University College was employed to evaluate the EAL programme using a variety of methods: A fidelity and implementation study to measure fidelity to the service design and examine the processes underpinning the programme's delivery. An experimental cross-over design study to measure the programme's impact on target outcomes. This report concerns the findings from the fidelity and implementation study conducted across all 28 settings that delivered the programme in 2009/10. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
Northern Ireland; United Kingdom

- You May Also Like

These resources share similarities with the current selection.

Implementing Sure Start local programmes: An in-depth study

Reports & Papers

Implementing Sure Start local programmes: An in-depth study [Executive summary]

Executive Summary

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

Executive Summary
Release: 'v1.36.0' | Built: 2023-09-22 13:54:40 EDT