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EIF report

Evaluation of the Early Years Transformation Academy

Published

13 May 2021

This independent evaluation of EIF’s Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA) outlines the programme’s context, structure and aims, and offers important findings and questions in relation to its achievements and impacts in terms of supporting evidence-use in systems planning and development.

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EIF’s Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA) was an intensive 12-month programme which ran between April 2019 and March 2020. The EYTA engaged with five local areas to support the development of integrated maternity and early years systems in which the latest evidence on early intervention and early childhood development was applied.

This formative evaluation was intended to capture early learning about the development of the EYTA, recruitment and retention of local areas, delivery of and participation in the programme, and the overall value of the EYTA. It involved qualitative interviews with the design partners (Better Start Bradford, Born in Bradford and the Staff College), and with local team members and senior sponsors in each of the five participating areas, and also used programme data on attendance at and satisfaction with the design workshops. In total nine representatives of the design partners and 28 local area participants were interviewed.

The report concludes that: ‘Overall it is clear the EYTA has been a very rich learning opportunity, and the evaluation points to clear strengths in the overall approach, content and delivery of the EYTA.’

On value for the participating areas, the report says: ‘There was clear value for participants in having taken part. The clearest impacts were the development of stronger relationships and partnerships, and systems thinking – particularly the understanding of shared goals and interdependencies. There was also some evidence of renewed recognition of the importance of evidence. There was some evidence of leadership capacity development and a new shared purpose among team members. If implementation plans are implemented as set out, they will lead to significant changes in provision and pathways, and in commissioning. These points indicate that most of the short-term goals set out in the theory of change were achieved, although medium- and longer-term goals (as expected at this stage) were not yet seen.’

This evaluation was conducted by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation for EIF as part of our test-and-learn approach to understanding what works to get evidence from research into the right hands and actively used in local decisions and actions. Learnings from the EYTA and other aspects of our programme of work on knowledge mobilisation have informed our briefing on key insights around supporting evidence-use for the What Works Network.

About the contributors

Ben Lewing

Ben is assistant director, policy & practice, at EIF.

Max Stanford

Max is head of early childhood education & care at EIF.