Coaching Early Conversations Interaction and Language (CECIL) Evaluation

Theory of Change process with CECIL Preston and Nottinghamshire

Dawson A, Huxley C |   | Institute for Employment Studies  | Nov 2023

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Successful development of early language skills, such as vocabulary, is important for a variety of outcomes later in life, including academic achievement, the ability to get a job, and mental health (Bleses et al., 2016; Law et al., 2017 Stewart and Waldfogel, 2017). Indeed, poor early skill development tends to negatively impact social mobility in the long term (Stewart & Waldfogel, 2017). In the UK, a large socioeconomic achievement gap currently highlights the difference in academic achievement between children from low-income backgrounds and their more advantaged peers (EEF, 2017), and recent research has shown that inequality in early childhood has not improved since the early 2000’s, despite investment (Cattan et al., 2022).

In England in 2021, 68% of 0–4-year-olds were enrolled in childcare settings (DfE, 2022), and there were 21,600 group-based providers (PVIs), 9,600 school-based providers, and 28,200 childminders throughout the country (DfE, 2022) which suggests that childcare settings are crucial for developing these early skills. Research has shown that the quality of these settings is key to ensuring good outcomes, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds (Melhuish & Gardiner, 2023).

The Coaching Early Conversations Interaction and Language (CECIL) programme of work seeks to explore how coaching can be used to support early years practitioners to embed and sustain learning around supporting children with their language and communication. Both the CECIL Preston and the CECIL Nottinghamshire models explored what sustainability support would be best if settings have already received an evidence-based training programme around supporting children’s language and communication. As part of the CECIL Preston pilot, sustainability support was delivered to early years settings where practitioners had previously participated in the Hanen Learning Language and Loving it™, The Hanen Programme® for Early Childhood Educators/Teachers’ intervention. This report covers methods, theories of change, findings and future possible research for the evaluation of the CECIL programme in Preston and Nottinghamshire.