Childbase Partnership leads national trial to close ‘word gap’ in Early Years

Northampton University partnership

Childbase Partnership has been chosen for a sector-leading national trial to determine the impact of environment on children’s speech and language development and close the post-pandemic ‘word gap’ hindering progress at school.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Northampton University – a first for the Early Years Sector – involves a 20-month study in all 44-day nurseries at the employee-owned Childbase Partnership, which was rated Nursery World Magazine ‘Top’ for quality in 2024 based on Ofsted results.

Trialling the Environment Audit for Speech and Language/EASAL developed by Dr. Tanya Richardson, the research will include the use of GoPro cameras to record and then analyse children’s verbal interactions in relation to environment, resources, and teaching.

Lorna Wigley, Director of Quality and Training at Childbase Partnership, said:

“It is a privilege to be the first Early Years provider to embark on a KTP. This research project promises to give us the means to close the ‘Word Gap’ and empower children with the necessary vocabulary to express themselves more fully and unlock their access to learning.”

Our post pandemic focus on speech and language development in Childbase Partnership nurseries and the priority we give to establishing imaginative well-resourced environments and highly trained practitioners aligns perfectly with Dr. Richardson’s approach and our shared aim of achieving outstanding outcomes for children at this critical stage of their development.”

Dr Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Education (Childhood, Youth and Families) was awarded the Innovate UK-funded KTP which is part of a UK scheme to help businesses of all sizes develop with the aid of University knowledge and expertise.

The audit tool developed by Dr Richardson stipulates a total of 27 crucial elements nurseries should provide to get the most out of their environments and teaching. These include a quiet space for children to process their thoughts, the ability for children to move around the setting freely, the provided resources, the use of natural resources and provocations, and an appropriate number of books.

As part of the research project, a University of Northampton Knowledge Transfer Partner Associate will work alongside the Childbase Partnership Quality and Training team in providing further staff training, supporting parents, and aiding creative planning for play and learning environments in future settings.


Cedars Day Nursery - Leighton Buzzard

We prioritise the importance of outdoor play at Cedars Day Nursery in Leighton Buzzard. All children at our Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ nursery have access to our large, natural garden area on a daily basis as we recognise the impact that being outdoors has on a child’s social, emotional and physical development. The children enjoy planting vegetables and tasting their produce, served by our dedicated Nursery Chef.

Cedars Day Nursery, Mentmore Rd, Leighton Buzzard LU7 2PA

Tel:  01525 850200