January 2024

Early years education recovery

This is the latest data
Last updated
See all updates (1) for January 2024
  1. Correction to the number of childminder settings registered for the experts and mentors programme. This affects the total number of settings registered.

Release type


The release provides management information (MI) data on the number of practitioners and settings that have registered to take part in strands of the early years education recovery (EYER) programme in England. For one strand, the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), the number of uses of LanguageScreen and an estimate of the number of children receiving the intervention are also included. 

This data is collected by the Department for Education (DfE) from each of the EYER programme delivery partners, with the exception of child development training, which is collected directly by DfE.

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About this management information


The early years education recovery (EYER) programme provides workforce training, qualifications, and support for early years settings to help address the impact of the pandemic on the youngest and most disadvantaged children in England. The programme includes a range of strands of activity that provide targeted support to practitioners, leaders and settings. 

Three strands are excluded from this publication:

  • National professional qualification in early years leadership (NPQEYL)
  • Early years initial teacher training (EYITT)
  • Home learning environment (HLE) training

For two of the strands of activity, national professional qualification in early years leadership and early years initial teacher training, management information data is published through other releases. 

NPQEYL data can be found here Teacher and Leader development: ECF and NPQs, Academic year 2022/23 – Explore education statistics 

EYITT data can be found here Initial Teacher Training Census, Academic year 2023/24 – Explore education statistics 

For one of the strands, home learning environment, the data will be published at a later date as part of the Family Hubs programme.

More detailed information on each strand can be found here: Early years education recovery programme (opens in a new tab) and in the methodology section of this release.

The data collection window varies between the different strands of the programme. See each individual strand for more information about when data collection began and ended.


We refer in the publication to:


A registration is an instance of a setting or practitioner signing up to a strand within the dates provided for each strand, not the number of settings or practitioners that have completed a strand.

Group-based providers 

(Identified from the Ofsted register). providers registered with Ofsted and operating on non-domestic premises. The two main types of group-based providers included in this report are:

Private group-based providers: These are private companies and include employer-run childcare for employees. 

Voluntary group-based providers: These are voluntary organisations, including community groups, charities, churches, or religious groups.

School-based providers

(Identified from the School Census). The two types of school-based providers are:

Maintained nursery schools: These are purpose-built maintained schools specifically for children in their early years and with a qualified teacher present. 

Nursery class childcare settings: These are other maintained schools, and non-maintained schools, offering nursery provision.


Ofsted-registered and childminder agency (CMA) registered childminders providing early years care and operating in domestic settings.  CMAs are organisations that can register and quality assure childminders and providers of ‘childcare on domestic premises’ as an alternative to registering with Ofsted.

Childminders can work alone or with up to 2 childminders at any one time. If a childminder works with 3 or more other childminders or assistants, they are classed as providing childcare on domestic premises.

Primary schools

All state funded primary schools in England, including community schools, foundation and voluntary schools, academies, free schools, special schools and faith schools.

A separate breakdown for primary schools is only included for NELI where the programme is exclusively available to this group.

Future early years education recovery programme publications

Future publications of management information data for the early years education recovery programme are planned for Summer 2024 and Spring 2025. These are planned to include:

  • Updated delivery data for each strand 
  • Strand delivery data broken down by local authority
  • Strand completion rates 

Early years child development training

The early years child development training is free online training aimed at helping practitioners working with children aged 0-4 in early years settings build and strengthen their understanding and knowledge of child development. The training comprises of a number of modules, including brain development, communication and language and personal, social and emotional development, each written by early years subject matter experts. There are currently six modules available, with two more to be launched in 2024. Users can access the modules in any order and complete them at a time that suits them; this strand is delivered via a self-study route that includes reading material, videos and prompts to reflect on practice. Each module takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

Since June 2022, 37,084 practitioners have registered to take part in the training. 

Professional development programme (PDP)

The professional development programme (PDP) provides Level 3-qualified early years practitioners with training to improve their skills and understanding in supporting children’s development in early communication and language, early mathematics, and personal, social and emotional development (PSED).

PDP phase 3 builds on the success of the previous two phases of the programme (PDP1 and PDP2), and is delivered through a mix of self-study learning and live webinars. PDP3 is available in all local authorities in England, and it is expected it will take participants 60 hours over 8 months to complete the programme. 

Priority is given to settings with high numbers of disadvantaged children (children who receive the early years pupil premium and children who take up the disadvantaged two-year-old offer) and settings that provide care to a child/children with an education, health and care plan.

Between November 2022 and December 2023, 8,329 practitioners have been recruited to the programme.

Level 3 special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) qualification

The Level 3 SENCO training programme is aimed at increasing specialist expertise in special educational needs and disability (SEND) by increasing the number of qualified early years special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs).

The training is aimed at those working in group-based and childminder settings; school-based settings are not eligible for this programme. SENCO requirements differ for school based settings and group-based providers/childminders.  Legislation requires maintained nursery schools to have a qualified teacher (or headteacher or acting headteacher) designated as SENCO. Mainstream schools are bound by the same obligation where the school has early years children who are pupils of the school e.g. in a school-based nursery. In contrast there are no requirements in relation to the level of qualification for designated SENCOs in group-based providers or childminder settings.

On completion of the training, participants receive a level 3 SENCO qualification. The training contains units on the role and responsibilities of a SENCO in early years and strategies for supporting children and families. It is expected that it will take participants 34 hours over 4 months to complete the training through a combination of self-study learning and online webinars including group discussions and reflective practice. 

To date, 5,253 early years settings have been registered for the training. 

Experts and mentors programme

The experts and mentors programme offers support, delivered either face to face or virtually, by trained experts and mentors, to early years practitioners, leaders and settings. The programme is targeted at settings who have the greatest need, such as those who; 

  • have been judged by Ofsted as requires improvement or inadequate in the past 3 years;
  • have high numbers of children in receipt of early years pupil premium;
  • have high numbers of children with special educational needs and disabilities or; 
  • have high numbers of children taking up the disadvantaged-2-year-old offer.

Over the course of one term, experts provide up to 3 days of whole setting support. In addition, individual practitioners receive up to 6 hours of support from a mentor.

A pilot of the experts and mentors programme ran from April 2022 – July 2022, with full roll out commencing in September 2022. In April 2023 the offer was expanded to include mentoring support for childminders. Childminder mentors provide up to 4 days of support to a small cluster of childminders over one term.

As the programme was only available to group/school-based settings initially, the data indicates greater engagement in the programme from group/school-based settings who have been able to take up the support for longer. 3,798 practitioners from group/school based settings have been recruited to the programme since April 2022. 1,191 childminders have been recruited since April 2023. 

Stronger practice hubs (SPHs)

Early years stronger practice hubs provide advice, share good practice and offer evidence-informed professional development for early years practitioners. There are 18 stronger practice hubs nationwide, with two hubs in each government region. The first 12 hubs were appointed in November 2022, with a further 6 hubs appointed in July 2023.

Hubs build local networks for sharing effective practice and support settings to adopt evidence-informed practice improvements that can address key COVID-19 recovery issues. In their first year of delivery, hubs were expected to work with providers in their own local authority (or neighbouring local authority depending on local geography) widening out to a wider area within their region in their second year of delivery. 

As of December 2023, the early years stronger practice hubs had 7,266 settings within their network membership. 

We have excluded data on the evidence-informed professional development offer from hubs in this publication given the varying stages of delivery of these programmes, but plan to include this data in the summer 2024 update.

Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is a programme developed for reception-age children needing additional support with their speech, language and early literacy skills. Following completion of CPD-certified training and an assessment of children’s language, the 20-week intervention is usually delivered by teaching assistants to 4-6 children per class, 5 times a week. This intervention is not available to early years group-based or childminder settings. A different but related oral language programme, called NELI Preschool, is available to support practitioners working with 3-4 year olds in group-based settings. A trial of NELI Preschool is currently being recruited to in some regions across England with places co-funded by DfE’s stronger practice hubs and Education Endowment Foundation. The data for NELI Preschool is not captured here. 

The schools registered for the NELI programme in academic year 2020/2021 and academic year 2021/2022 have been published previously - NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention programme) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (opens in a new tab)

NELI was first rolled out in September 2020 and initially targeted those schools with the highest numbers of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 6,668 schools initially registered. The programme was then offered to all state-funded primary schools with a reception class in England in academic year 2021/22. The programme was open to new school registrations in 2022/23. Only 26 additional schools registered so the DfE took the decision to focus on continuing the funded offer for registered schools in 2023/24, with no new school registrations taking place. Since September 2020, 11,112 schools have registered for the programme giving them access to training, mentoring, support and LanguageScreen, an assessment and screening tool. Through the DfE funded programme, the 4 NELI training courses and resources have been made available at no cost to registered schools. To date LanguageScreen has been used to assess children’s language 648,532 times. Schools are encouraged to use the screening tool to identity which children could benefit most from taking part in the NELI intervention. Between 2021/22 and 2022/23 there was a reduction in the number of language screens completed using the screening tool. This may be because schools are becoming more confident with identifying children who could benefit the most from NELI.

Across the four years of the funded programme, it is estimated that 211,700 children will have benefited from receiving the NELI intervention to support their early language development by the end of 2023/24 academic year.

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Management information

Management information describes aggregate information collated and used in the normal course of business to inform operational delivery, policy development or the management of organisational performance. It is usually based on administrative data but can also be a product of survey data. The terms administrative data and management information are sometimes used interchangeably.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Early years education recovery statistics and data:

Early Years Outcomes and Interventions Research

Contact name: Kay Penny

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Telephone: 020 7783 8300

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