Segregation of early years settings: patterns, drivers and outcomes

This project will examine the patterns, drivers, and outcomes of segregation by socioeconomic group and ethnicity in early education.

The team will use data from the National Pupil Database to do three things: 

  1. Examine the extent of segregation in early education for three- and four-year-olds in England, both in relation to socio-economic background and in relation to ethnicity.
  2. Explore the extent to which these patterns simply reflect geographical segregation, and the extent to which they are exacerbated by differences in the nature of provision in different settings (such as different opening hours and fees for additional hours).
  3. Link children’s data longitudinally to explore the association between pre-school peer group and outcomes at Key Stage 1 (age 7), holding other child and setting characteristics constant.

Why does this matter? 

There is some evidence to support the idea that peer effects are relevant to early child development, in particular in relation to language acquisition. If this is so, the composition of early education settings is an important feature of provision, which is likely to influence children’s outcomes, especially those of disadvantaged children. But there is much less research on the existence of peer effects for preschool age children than for older children and adolescents, and there has been no systematic attempt to map the extent of segregation across early education settings in England. This project aims to address that.