Evidence for the early years - new support and resources for professionals working in schools, nurseries and other early years settings from the EEF

This Spotlight focuses on a new Early Years resource area launched by the Education Endowment Foundation in February. This marks a big step forward in their mission to support early years practitioners by providing the most up-to-date evidence about how effective different approaches are likely to be on children’s learning and development. This evidence supports practitioners to “make decisions about how to make the most of the adults in your setting to create great learning opportunities for all your children, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.”

The major development is the launch of the Early Years Evidence Store which between now and October 2024 will be populated with support and guidance on a range of themes.


The EEf describes it as “a summary of evidence-informed approaches to help educators to understand and reflect on their practice. The approaches are illustrated with practices that typically make up the approach and a range of examples of what these might look like in practice….spanning adult-led and child-led learning opportunities in the Early Years Pedagogical Continuum.”

Two ‘theme’ areas are currently populated – Communication and Language and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. These themes have been specifically selected as priorities due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s learning and experiences in these areas. More themes will be added over time.

Clicking on each theme on the homepage takes you to the following resources based around a consistent theme, approaches and practices structure :

• a summary of the evidence;

• a “snapshot” film showing what the approach might look like;

• a list of practices that may be used to implement the approach;

• short spotlight videos and written scenarios to see the practices in action.

A short ‘how to’ video guide to navigating the Early Years Evidence Store is included. 

There is also brief but useful guidance linked to the underpinning Early years Pedagogical Continuum (from adult-led to child-led).

The existing Early Years Toolkit, which provides a summary of the evidence of impractical implementation and of a range of teaching and learning themes and interventions, has also been updated. Drilling down into specific strands from the ‘dashboard’ enables settings and schools to access the detailed evidence and also provides guidance on practical implementation.

And finally, the site currently offers opportunities for practitioners to both contribute to and stay informed about the future development of the EEF Early Years resource areas. Firstly, a 3-minute questionnaire inviting practitioners to offer their views on what further support could be offered by the EEF, and secondly the opportunity to sign up to the EEF Early Years specific update service.

We very much look forward to observing the future development of these resources over the next 18 months.

To read our other Spotlight on Evidence posts, click here.

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