PACT-3 (2021-2023)

We are running a new PACT trial – called PACT-3 – for which we will be recruiting schools in spring-summer 2021.

We are extremely pleased to have received additional funding from the EEF for further evaluation work on the PACT programme. Our teams at The University of Manchester and Durham University will be working on the new trial (which we are calling PACT-3) between 2021 and 2023.

We will recruit 45 – 50 local authority maintained school-based nursery settings in Greater Manchester and Lancashire to take part in PACT-3.

If you meet the above criteria and are interested in taking part in PACT-3, please email the Manchester team ( or to register your interest.

If you would like to find out more about our plans for PACT-3, please see the below frequently asked questions.

Frequently asked questions

Why is the new trial (2021 - 2023) called PACT-3?

The first trial in which the PACT programme was developed and evaluated, was carried out between 2015 – 2017. You can read about the background of this study on the PACT background page, or you can read the scientific paper reporting the results of the first PACT trial.

EEF subsequently funded an efficacy trial of PACT which took place between 2019 – 2021. This is PACT-2.

The new trial will therefore be the third trial exploring the impact of PACT. We are calling this trial PACT-3.

What will happen in the new PACT-3 trial?

In spring-summer 2021, the team at The University of Manchester will recruit school-based nurseries to the project and help them talk to their families about taking part in PACT-3. Families will register to take part in summer 2021.

In September 2021, school-based nursery staff will carry out an app-based language assessment with all children taking part in the project. The assessment is called LanguageScreen. Learn more on the LanguageScreen website.

Children and their parents will then be put at random into one of two groups.

One group will be given the PACT language programme and will be asked to work on the programme at home five days a week for about 20 minutes a day, for a total of 30 weeks.

The other group will be given a box of children’s storybooks at the end of nursery.

Children will be assessed by school staff again using LanguageScreen at the end of nursery and at the end of reception. The research team will also visit children in school at these time-points to do other language and literacy game-based tests.

PACT timetable

March 2021 – May 2021: School recruitment and training 

June – July 2021: Parent recruitment 

September 2021: First child assessment 

October 2021 – June 2022: 30 weeks of PACT (PACT programme group) OR business as usual (comparison group) 

June – July 2022: Second child assessment

May – June 2023: Third child assessment


How will you know if PACT works?

The child assessments will tell us whether the PACT programme has benefitted children’s early language skills.

We will assess children at three time-points:

  • At the beginning of the project (September 2021);
  • At the end of nursery (June – July 2022); and
  • At the end of reception (May – June 2023).

We will use an app-based assessment called LanguageScreen at all three time-points. LanguageScreen assessments will take about 10 minutes with each child and are completed on a tablet with an adult in school.

At the end of nursery and the end of reception, University of Manchester researchers will visit children in school to administer other language and early literacy assessments with children in the project. These activities will take about 15 – 20 minutes with each child.


I’m a teacher at a private nursery – can we take part?

In the PACT-2 (2019 – 2021) trial we worked with 450 families from 47 nurseries. Some of those nurseries were not attached to schools.

In those settings, PACT children went to a large number of different schools for reception year, and by the time of our last assessment, the number of settings in the project jumped up to 113. This meant it was very difficult to follow some of our children in their new schools.

For this reason, we are recruiting school-based nurseries in the new PACT-3 trial as a way of minimising the number of new settings that join the project at reception (by virtue of a participant moving to their school).