Routes to Recovery – Supporting evidence use in the early years

By Gary Aubin posted 20-02-2023 13:11


Nicola Cherry is an Early Years Content Specialist for EEF and has twenty years of experience working as a teacher and leader in a variety of early years and primary settings, mainly in deprived areas across Bristol and North Somerset. She has experience supporting others working in schools, nurseries, children centres, PVI and childminding settings.

It’s 6.30pm and private nursery manager, Sam, is finishing a long day.

Earlier today, Jordan (one of Sam’s least experienced Early Years Professionals) shared that they were worried about the communication and language development of one of their key children.

Sam reflects on how best to support this member of staff during her car journey home.

Navigating the Early Years Landscape

As early years professionals, we are always looking for the best route to improving outcomes for the young children in our care. But in today’s challenging context – with so many complex, competing priorities – it can be difficult to discern the way forwards.

How do we prioritise which route to recovery to embark on, whilst also avoiding the traffic jams and diversions that may distract us?

The use of education evidence can be like a reliable navigation system, supporting us to create great learning opportunities for all children, particularly those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who we know stand to benefit most from high-quality early education

Using The Evidence Store

Today, the EEF has launched a brand new resource – The Early Years Evidence Store’ – developed as part of the EEF’s work supporting the Department for Education’s Stronger Practice Hubs. It is designed to support early years professionals in putting evidence-informed approaches into practice. The store zooms in on key themes of learning and development – such as language and communication – to explain and exemplify how they can be adopted, prompting educators to reflect on their own current practice.

Each theme is broken down into specific approaches that can support that area of learning and development and provides information on the strength of the evidence underpinning each approach. These are supported by a list of practices and help explain how each approach could be implemented.The Early Years Evidence Store can support a community of early years practice; using a shared language and understanding of the evidence, and what it means for children.

The video exemplification invites us to peek through windows of other settings and learn from other early years professionals’ practice.

How can we use evidence to identify our best bets’?

Together, Sam and Jordan use The Early Years Evidence Store to identify and implement approaches to support language and communication development in their setting.

Using the wealth of information provided, Jordan reflects on the practices they feel confident and less confident using. Sam supports Jordan to discover what knowledge and skills they want to develop further.

With a little time and support, Sam is able to steer her team in the right direction.

The practices in the Evidence Store are useful to illustrate and explain some of the components that may make up an approach, but they are rarely evidence themselves. It is therefore worth keeping the overall approach in mind.

Education evidence can go a long way to supporting us early years professionals in our vital work. We know our children best, and if we use our professional expertise and lessons from the research as our guide, we’re bound to be on the right track.

Other resources and support

Find out where your local Stronger Practice Hub’ is by accessing this link; DFE SPH website Early years stronger practice hubs – GOV.UK (
Sign up to EEF Early Years updates.

This blog originally appeared on the EEF website.

Did you enjoy this blog? If so, scroll to the top and hit the 'Recommend' button!

1 comment



21-02-2023 08:21

Thank you for sharing this.