Toddlers who received free early education in high-quality settings as part of a two-year government pilot ‘perform better’ when starting school at age five, it has been claimed.
The early Education Pilot for Two Year Old Children: Age Five Follow-up said those children who received early years education in better quality settings had a ‘larger vocabulary’ and ‘more positive relationships’ with their parents.
However, research carried out by the Department of Education (DfE) shows those children who took part in the pilot and attended ‘low or adequate-quality’ settings did no better in their Reception year than other children.
Despite there being no evidence that the pilot increased the likelihood of those children attending early years education at age three or four overall, the DfE study found the pilot helped improve take-up of early education at ages three and four for children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said: ‘The report reinforces earlier studies which demonstrate the importance of children attending high-quality childcare provision and needs to be read in the context that Ofsted judges almost three-quarters (74%) of provision to be either “Good” or “Outstanding”.
‘The report challenges the sector to improve across the board so that every child from the age of two upwards can benefit from high-quality provision. That is why we welcome the focus of Ofsted inspections outlined in the More Great Childcare document, as there will be a stronger emphasis on re-inspecting and supporting weaker providers.’
The original pilot provided early years education to over 13,500 two year olds and ran between 2006 and 2008.
The main purpose of the pilot was to improve children’s social skills including their social confidence and independence as well as their verbal and reasoning ability while having a positive impact on children’s parents and wider family.