Early years

Almost all children experience some combination of childcare and early education before they start school. Our research improves understanding of this provision, including its impact on children’s development and the extent to which it can alleviate disadvantage.

Our research explores the impact of early years education and childcare on educational outcomes and development. We also want to understand how early years provision does, or could, tackle disadvantage by addressing the attainment gaps already apparent between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds by the time they start school.

The parental and family context is also relevant to our work in early years. For example in relation to how childcare provision is subsidised and the effects of that on the education, training and employment choices of parents.

We also want to improve understanding of how the private and voluntary sector providers operate, and how good quality provision can be achieved and maintained. This includes questions of funding, regulation and staffing models.

 

Our team


  • Eleanor Ireland
    Programme Head, Education
  • Programme Head, Education

  • Director, Education

Our impact in early years


A new series from the Nuffield Foundation

Are young children today happier, healthier and better prepared for school? The Nuffield Foundation has launched a new series to bring together the research evidence on the changing face of early childhood in the UK.

Read more

Early years projects

1 of 4

Young-boy-uses-tablet-with-mother-for-maths-learning-Can-maths-apps-add-value-to-learning-PROJ
New

Education | 2020 – 2022

Can maths apps add value to learning?

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

Education | 2020 – 2022

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

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Early years worker sitting at table with children
In progress

Education | 2020 – 2021

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

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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

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man reading picture book to baby
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2022

Do infants learn new words from educational picture books?

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2022

The SWAN game-based approach to learning foundational number language

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Family Nurse Partnership: what works in England and Germany

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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

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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

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2020

Empowering staff to enhance oral language in the early years

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2019 – 2020

Private sector childcare in England

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In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Development & evaluation of a preschool language programme

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Latest in early years

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

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COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.