account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upaudio-less-volume audio-not-playing audio-plus-volume audio awarded books calendar close-modal closedate document education emailevent Facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay pluspost preview project reports search-bigsearch-old search share startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

Early Words Together programme: a pilot randomised controlled trial

Researchers: Dr Louise Tracey | Nicole Gridley ...

Project overview

This project is a pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the impact of the Early Words Together programme on the language acquisition of children living in deprived areas.

Children’s literacy development begins long before they go to school, with parents and the home environment exerting important influences on the development of children’s language skills. Given the influence of children’s language development on their literacy skills and later educational achievement, it is crucial to understand how the home learning environment (HLE) can be harnessed to promote changes in children’s language.

The National Literacy Trust’s Early Words Together is an early years parent and child engagement programme that encourages parents to adopt activities that have been shown to improve the HLE. It is particularly successful in recruiting at risk families, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has been shown to impact on children’s language and literacy skills. However, the programme has not been rigorously evaluated by an RCT.

The researchers will conduct a pilot RCT to assess the impact of the programme on the language acquisition of children living in deprived areas. The secondary goals of the study are to gain a more in-depth understanding of which home-based activities and behaviours are most likely to be improved and sustained following participation in a family literacy programme; what barriers to change exist; and which characteristics help to support a positive HLE.


  • Dr Louise Tracey
    University of York
  • Nicole Gridley
    University of York
  • Christina Clark
    National Literacy Trust
  • Clare McGread
    National Literacy Trust

  • Eleanor Ireland
    Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.