The changing face of early childhood in Britain

The Nuffield Foundation is launching a new series to bring together the research evidence on early childhood in the UK and present recommendations for policy and practice, as well as priorities for research.

Authors
Carey Oppenheim
Project Lead, Early Childhood
Nuffield Foundation
Jordan Rehill
Researcher
Nuffield Foundation
man reading picture book to baby

We will publish robust and accessible summaries of research to generate an informed debate on early childhood based on what the collective evidence tells us.

We will provide a forum for further engagement through our events programme and publish additional commentary to explore the questions raised in more depth.

The series will be useful for anyone with an interest in early childhood, including those working in central government, statutory agencies, devolved administrations and local authorities. The series will also be relevant to social investors and practice leaders in the public, private and voluntary sectors, including those working in early years provision and childcare, public health, schools, children’s social services, GPs and health professionals.

The first research summary will be published in autumn 2020, with several more over the following year. Topics covered will include:

  • How are the lives of young children changing?
  • Changing patterns of poverty and vulnerability in early childhood
  • The role of early years and childcare provision in shaping life-chances
  • Parents and the home
  • Are young children’s lives improving? Are they healthier and happier?

 

Addressing the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on early childhood


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families across the UK is likely to be significant, particularly for those who are already disadvantaged or vulnerable. Self-isolation and social distancing measures, including the partial closure of schools and early years settings, are likely to have profound implications for family relationships and the well-being of children. Families are spending more intense time together as their lives and worlds shrink into their homes and professionals are having to make rapid decisions about the support that can be provided to those who are vulnerable. As part of our early childhood series, we will gather insights from a range of experts in the field to explore the implications of the ongoing pandemic on young children and their families.

Why early childhood?


The early years of a child’s life are a period of momentous change in their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development – a time of joy and discovery for many. It can also be a time of anxiety and uncertainty for those families who face poverty, insecure housing, work difficulties or problems with their health. These early years are a period of change for most parents in terms of their relationships, the division of tasks at home and paid work. This early phase of life matters not only for children’s experiences today but also influences later child, adult and sometimes inter-generational outcomes.
But being a small child today is a strikingly different experience from that of child a generation ago. New and disruptive forces – social, demographic, economic and technological – are changing the context and the nature of young children’s experiences and life-chances. Understanding how and why their lives are changing is vital if we want our youngest citizens to be able to thrive and flourish.

Over the last ten years, the Nuffield Foundation has funded over 80 research projects relating to early childhood. We want to give policymakers a succinct overview of the findings from the research, and to signpost them to other relevant evidence. Where evidence is relevant to practice, we want to make sure it is available in an accessible format. We also want to identify priorities for new research.

Our advisory group


Our advisory group has been brought together to act as a sounding board for the early childhood series; to help ensure the quality and relevance of the outputs and activities and to help us widen our reach and impact. The group will provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge and expert opinion on early childhood from research, policy and practice perspectives.

  • Imperial College London and Nuffield Trust
  • Children’s Commission England
  • EasyPeasy, formerly Nesta and Demos
  • Early Intervention Foundation
  • Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre
  • Nuffield Foundation, Duke University and Kings College London
  • London School of Economics, CASE
  • Department for Education
  • Cabinet Office
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

News and opinion


Early childhood projects

Young-boy-wearing-glasses-watches-laptop-school-lesson-with-notepad-The-effects-COVID-19-on-families-time-use-child-development-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 – 2022

The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

View project
Early years worker sitting at table with children
New

Education | 2020 – 2021

The ‘common elements’ approach: improving outcomes in early childhood education

View project
Two young girls being taught fractions and decimals, learning from a school workbook together
In progress

Education | 2020 – 2021

Teaching fractions and decimals to children aged 3 to 11

View project
man reading picture book to baby
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2022

Do infants learn new words from educational picture books?

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Family Nurse Partnership: what works in England and Germany

View project
Young-child-blurred-in-background-plays-with-abacus-in-foreground-Early-years-employment-pathways-PROJ
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2020

A systematic review of early years degrees and employment pathways

View project
Two young schoolchildren develop their early years oracy and literacy through reading a book
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Book language: promoting early years oracy and literacy

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2020

Empowering staff to enhance oral language in the early years

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2019 – 2020

Private sector childcare in England

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Development & evaluation of a preschool language programme

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2021

Talking Together: Language support at home for parents of 2 year olds

View project

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