“Two year olds gain from pre school,” expert reaction to Ofsted First Early Years report

Ofsted’s First Early Years report highlights the importance of teaching and learning in pre-school settings.

Kathy Sylva , Professor of Educational Psychology at Oxford University & a leading expert on early years education , confirms some of the evidence:

1 Evidence on the value of pre-school attendance for two year olds:

“The large scale longitudinal EPPE study (the Effective Provision of Pre School Education) showed the number of months spent in early years settings is very important. An earlier start before the age of 3 is related to significantly better intellectual development by the time children start primary school, especially in language skills.”

“The EPPE study showed that overall, disadvantaged children tend to attend pre-school for fewer months on average than those from more advantaged backgrounds (around 4-6 months less on average) and this shorter time in pre-school acts as an additional disadvantage for such vulnerable children”

“Disadvantaged children benefit significantly from good quality pre-school experiences, especially where they attend centres with a mixture of children from different social backgrounds.”

(Evidence drawn from: Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Taggart, B. (Eds.) 2010. Early Childhood Matters. Evidence from the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education project. Routledge: Oxon)

“Other research on childcare in the first three years for disadvantaged children indicates that good quality non-parental care can be an important protector against behavioural problems and can increase academic skills among those children most at risk.”

(Evidence drawn from: Mathers, S., Eisenstadt, N., Sylva, K., Soukakou, E., Ereky-Stevens, K., 2014. Sound Foundations. A Review of the Research Evidence on Quality of Early Childhood Education and Care for Children Under Three, implications for Policy and Practice. The Sutton Trust.)

2 Evidence on the effects of quality of pre-school on children’s development

“For academic attainment, particularly in Maths, and Self-regulation, a child’s earlier experience of high quality pre-school provides some protection against the disadvantage of attending a less academically effective primary school” (p.118)

“ The EPPE study has shown that pre-school quality is a significant predictor of children’s later attainment in both English and Mathematics in national tests at age 11.” (p.128)

“Boys benefit more from attending a higher quality pre-school than girls in terms of better social outcomes, particularly in higher levels of Self-regulation and Pro-social behaviour and lower levels of ‘Hyperactivity’ (p.131)

(Evidence drawn from: Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Taggart, B. (Eds.) 2010. Early Childhood Matters. Evidence from the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education project. Routledge: Oxon)

3 The importance of staff qualifications:

“There is a clear consensus in the research staff qualifications and training are important for quality. They have a direct impact on the ability of staff to provide sensitive, responsive and stimulating care and education, which in turn enhances children’s learning and development” .

(Evidence drawn from: Mathers, S., Eisenstadt, N., Sylva, K., Soukakou, E., Ereky-Stevens, K., 2014. Sound Foundations. A Review of the Research Evidence on Quality of Early Childhood Education and Care for Children Under Three, implications for Policy and Practice. The Sutton Trust).

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