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

2 of 4

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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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2021

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

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In progress

Education | 2018 – 2020

Analysis of the early years workforce and its impact on children’s outcomes

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

Impact of the universal infant free school meal policy

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In progress

Education | 2017 – 2020

Early Words Together programme: a pilot randomised controlled trial

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In progress

Education | Welfare | 2017 – 2021

RCT of parent-based models of speech and language therapy

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Teacher and young schoolgirl in classroom look at building blocks brain training game together
Reported

Education | 2017 – 2019

Trialling an executive function training intervention for preschoolers

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Reported

Education | 2016 – 2019

A systematic review of the impact of parent-child reading

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Reported

Education | 2016 – 2019

Cognitive and educational foundations of preschool mathematics

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In progress

Education | 2016 – 2020

The influence of cognition and the home environment on early numeracy

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Reported

Education | Welfare | 2016 – 2019

Anxiety disorders and personality dysfunction in pregnancy

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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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