The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is one of the UK’s What Works Centres, championing the use of effective early intervention to improve outcomes for children. The EIF's Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA) ran an intensive programme comprising evidence-informed early interventions to improve child outcomes. The EYTA partnership included EIF, Better Start Bradford, Born in Bradford, and The Staff College. The partnership aimed to support the development of integrated maternity and early years systems and their use of the latest evidence on early intervention and early childhood development. CEI, in collaboration with Ivana La Valle, research consultant and Visiting Scholar at the University of East London, was commissioned to perform a feasibility evaluation of whether the programme could be delivered as effectively in other local areas.
Five local areas in England took part. Through workshops, online learning and structured work to apply learning locally, the EYTA programme helped them with systems planning, preparing for change, identifying vulnerable populations and measuring impact.
The evaluation found that the programme could be delivered as intended, was feasible, appropriate and acceptable to local areas overall and was a positive learning experience for the local teams. All five local areas produced a local transformation plan and were confident it would be taken forward.
The team's recommendations for how the EYTA and future work on systems change could be strengthened included:
- planning for a longer and more flexible programme
- involving teams at multiple levels working in alignment
- widening the lens on evidence and data: the local areas particularly learnt from local needs analysis
- widening and deepening coverage of systems change to consider what holds the current system in place
- strengthening engagement and co-production with local communities and hearing diverse voices
- and providing more technical assistance and tailored support.
The clearest impacts of EYTA for local areas were in the development of new and stronger relationships and partnerships, and in developing systems thinking – particularly with a better understanding of local systems and how they are experienced by families. There was also recognition that agencies have common goals that can only progress by working together across systems.
You can read a copy of the feasibility evaluation report here.
Lewis J, La Valle I (2021) Evaluation of the Early Years Transformation Academy. London: Centre for Evidence and Implementation