Early years education recovery



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

More detailed information on each strand can be found here: Early years education recovery programme

Management information is collected for each strand of the programme.  The Department for Education (DfE) uses the data published in this release to monitor delivery of each strand and to understand the overall reach of the programme. 

Data Collection

Data was collected by DfE from each EYER programme delivery partner, with the exception of early years child development training, which is collected by DfE directly. The number of schools registered for the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) was also collected directly by DfE in 2020/21.

Early years child development training

The early years child development training is a free, online training service. The training can be accessed by anyone who registers for an account, so it is possible for multiple practitioners from one setting to register to use the service. 

Users registering with the training service can select their job role and setting type. We include in this publication the number of group/school based and childminder settings and a category titled other that includes local authorities, training providers, and childcare centres. DfE relies on users selecting this accurately in line with the categories provided. The registration data is collected via the service database which is monitored by the digital team within the department. 

When this training programme began in June 2022 it was only available to specific users, invited by DfE. Largely these were mentees from the experts and mentors programme, members of the expert advisory group as well as local authority colleagues and specific early years stakeholders we asked to test the service. This was a ‘testing’ phase that allowed the department to trial the service with a small group of users and make improvements as a result of their feedback. In November 2022, registration opened to all, meaning every practitioner working with children aged 0-4 in early years settings could access the service.

It is possible for practitioners outside of the UK to register for the training, given it is a free and fully accessible service, so it should be noted that a very small number (estimated to be fewer than 20) of the total registrations are international users.

Professional development programme (PDP)

The professional development programme (PDP) provides early years practitioners with training on communication and language, early mathematics, and personal, social and emotional development. PDP3 builds on the success of PDP2, for which we also include the registered numbers in this publication, and is available to all local authorities nationally. PDP3 is targeted at practitioners, and we include here the number registered, which indicates the number of people that have signed up to the programme between the specified dates. The Education Development Trust (EDT) collect this data as DfE’s delivery partner. Practitioners are grouped in cohorts, with cohort one starting in February 2023, cohort two in September 2023, cohort three in January 2024 and cohort four in April 2024. The data published here includes registered figures for the first three cohorts, for which data was collected between November 2022 and December 2023. Recruitment for cohort four is in progress. 

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

The Level 3 SENCO qualification is aimed at increasing specialist expertise in special educational needs and disability (SEND) by increasing the number of qualified special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) in early years group-based providers and among childminders.

This training programme enables practitioners to gain an accredited Level 3 early years SENCO qualification. The training is delivered by the Best Practice Network (BPN), who recruit on a rolling, monthly basis to help meet high demand for the programme. BPN capture, manage and report on all programme data on behalf of DfE. 

One practitioner per setting in England may apply. Data published here includes registered settings; those that have successfully applied for the programme but may not have started yet, as of December 2023. 

Experts and mentors programme

The experts and mentors programme offers early years support by trained experts and mentors, to early years practitioners, leaders and settings. 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 their mentor.

The experts and mentors programme is targeted at settings rather than practitioners. Data for this strand therefore reflects the number of settings recruited. For the group-based offer, data is collected and submitted to DfE by Pen Green Centre, the delivery partner. The data for group/school-based settings includes data collected during the pilot of the programme, April 2022 – July 2022.

In Summer 2023 the offer was expanded to include mentoring support for childminders. For the childminder offer, Coram Hempsall’s are the delivery partner and data collector.

Stronger practice hubs (SPHs)

Early years stronger practice hubs provide advice, share good practice and offer evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners. The data published on stronger practice hubs includes the number of settings that were part of a stronger practice hub network, reflecting the focus of this strand of the programme.

Stronger practice hubs data is collected by the delivery partner National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and is collected from all 18 hubs. The data included for stronger practice hubs indicates the number of settings that were part of a hub network in December 2023. NCB do not dictate what constitutes membership so there may be variation in interpretation of this term across hubs. It should be noted that other organisations can become members of the network, such as local authorities and voluntary organisations, but we include here only group/school-based settings and childminders.

Nuffield Early Learning 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. 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.   

NELI was rolled out in academic year 2020/21, ahead of the wider early years education recovery programme with funding from the National Tutoring Programme. 

 NELI data is provided by our delivery partner, OxEd & Assessment. We include the number of participating schools, which since academic year 2021/22 is collected by Nuffield Foundation and their delivery partners on behalf of DfE. DfE was responsible for collecting school participation data in 2020/21. Participating schools are defined as those that have registered and signed a Memorandum of Understanding; this allows them to train staff, use LanguageScreen, and receive a NELI pack that contains the scripted intervention and other resources. We include the number of children that have been assessed using LanguageScreen which helps to  identify which children within a reception class would most benefit from the intervention. Use of this tool is encouraged and failure to carry out the assessment with children does not preclude access to NELI training or materials. 

We also include our delivery partner’s estimate of the number of children who have received the intervention. The annual estimate is based on independently collected data and analysis by RAND that is included in the Nuffield Early Language Evaluation Report. The number of children estimated to have benefited from the intervention in this report has been extrapolated across delivery years using the number of registered schools. This assumes the intervention rate at registered schools has remained consistent. The independent EEF report estimated that a total of 94,000 children were supported by NELI in the first two years of delivery, with 35,304 children from 6,668 schools receiving the intervention in 2020/21 and an estimated 58,696 children across 11,086 schools receiving the intervention in 2021/22. On the basis that 11,112 schools were supported in academic year 2022/23, our delivery partner has extrapolated from the EEF data that an additional 58,833 children will have received the intervention in that year (total children 2021/22 x number of schools 2022/23 ÷ number of schools 2021/22).  

Data Quality

Data for all strands relies on the accurate input of individuals and/or delivery partners. 

A practitioner/setting can enrol on more than one strand of the programme; as a result, it is not possible to calculate the total number of practitioners/settings reached by the programme using this data.

The estimated number of children included in the NELI data table is rounded to the nearest whole number. When calculating the cumulative total unrounded values have been used. 

The figures are final and are the most up to date possible, in accordance with the time frames set out below.

Time Frame

Programme strandDelivery beganData correct up to
Early years child development training (EYCDT)June 2022December 2023
Professional development programme phase 3 (PDP3)November 2022December 2023
Professional development programme phase 3 (PDP2)September 2021June 2022
Level 3 special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) qualificationOctober 2022December 2023
Experts and mentors programme (E&M)April 2022January 2024
Stronger practice hubs (SPHs)November 2022December 2023
Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)September 2020July 2024

Help and support

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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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