Professional learning in early years education: reviewing the evidence

This project is the first systematic review of international research evidence on professional learning in early years education. It aims to guide policy-makers, school and nursery leaders, and other practitioners to make informed decisions about the types of professional learning opportunities that are most effective in the early years sector. 

The review will address the overarching question: How can professional learning approaches meet the diverse levels of expertise and skills of staff working in preschools, children’s centres, nurseries and reception classes? The approach is informed by three research questions: 

  1. What evidence is available about the impact of professional learning approaches in early years education on outcomes for children? Which approaches have the most impact?
  2. What are the features of effective professional learning approaches in early years education? And what is the theory of action underpinning them? 
  3. What types of professional learning opportunities are available to early years education practitioners and who provides them? And how to these relate to the first two questions? 

The methodological approach draws on the guidelines produced by the EPPI-Centre (a specialist systematic review body based at the UCL Institute of Education) and recent exemplar reviews. The team will investigate a range of electronic databases, journals and specialist websites, as well as making direct contact with experts in the field.

Project details



Professor Sue Rogers and Dr Chris Brown, UCL Institute of Education

Funding programme:

Early Years Education and Childcare

Grant amount and duration:


February 2016 - September 2018