The long-lasting effect of pre-school experiences

A new research report published by the Department for Education explores the impact of the early home learning environment (HLE) and pre-school on entry patterns and overall achievement at ages 17 and 18.

The authors used data from the Effective Provision of Pre-school Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study, a large-scale, longitudinal study which has tracked the progress and development of more than 3,000 UK children from pre-school to post-compulsory education. They merged this with achievement data from the National Pupil Database.

The report concludes that both the early HLE and pre-school continue to shape young people’s educational outcomes up to age 18. There were significant positive effects for both the early HLE and pre-school in terms of increasing the likelihood that a young person will enter AS- or A-levels.

In terms of achievement, those who experienced a good early HLE were more likely to have higher achievement in terms of Key Stage 5 point scores. Although for most pupils attending pre-school did not lead to effects in the grades they achieved at KS5, separate analysis for the Sutton Trust showed a lasting impact for disadvantaged young people classed as high achievers at the end of primary school.

Previous research using the EPPSE data found that when pupils were 16 years old both the early HLE and pre-school shaped their GCSE attainment. Positive parenting and a stimulating HLE at an early age predicted both a higher total GCSE score and better grades in English and maths, and achieving the GCSE benchmark measures of 5 A*-C and 5 A*-C including English and maths. The same was true for attending any pre-school compared to none.

The Best Evidence in Brief archive includes a number of previous reports based on the EPPSE project.

Source: Pre-school and early home learning: Effects on A level outcomes (2015), Department for Education.

Impact of early education fades

A new report summary from the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds that the impact of early education fades as children go through school.

In England, all four-year-olds have received free part-time early education since 2000; all three-year-olds have received it since 2005; and two-year-olds from low-income families since 2013. Introduction of free services was not immediate and this enabled researchers to measure the impact on child development.

The researchers found that the introduction of free early education for three-year-olds improved their outcomes slightly. Development was assessed at age five using the Foundation Stage Profile and average scores rose from 87.5 to 89.3 (out of a possible 117). These small impacts came mostly from children who would not have attended early education without the free entitlement. If it is assumed that all of the increase comes from these children, then their scores would have risen almost 15 points on the Foundation Stage Profile.

The researchers followed the children to ages seven and 11, when children take further national tests. The estimated impacts of the free education at age seven were very small and by age 11 they had disappeared entirely.

The policy of free early education was introduced because of the EPPE study, which showed that children who received preschool in the late 1990s started school with better cognitive development and that these effects persisted to age 11 and beyond.

The authors of the current study suggested reasons why their results differed from the EPPE study. Free child classes are now often in private, voluntary, and independent settings and these may be of poorer quality. Alternatively, primary schools have changed and improved since the late 1990s and so preschool experience may now matter less.

Source: The impact of free early education for 3 year olds in England (2014), The Institute for Fiscal Studies

The characteristics of excellent schools and teachers

A new report published by Pearson, Exploring Effective Pedagogy in Primary Schools: Evidence from Research, builds on the findings of the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study. The researchers looked at practices in 125 English primary schools.

Standardised assessments were used to measure children’s academic attainment in reading and maths in Years 1 and 5. Classroom practices and processes were studied using two classroom observation instruments.

The researchers identified 11 pedagogic strategies that were important in good schools: organisation, shared objectives, homework, classroom climate, behaviour management, collaborative learning, personalised teaching and learning, making links explicit, dialogic teaching and learning, assessment for learning, and whole-class teaching.

In addition, teachers in excellent schools excelled in organisational skills; positive classroom climate; personalised highly-interactive approaches to teaching and learning; use of dialogic teaching and learning; and more frequent and effective use of whole-class teaching.

Source: Exploring Effective Pedagogy in Primary Schools: Evidence from Research (2014), Pearson.

What influences attainment at age 16?

The Department for Education has published a new report analysing the attainment and behavioural outcomes at age 16 of children in the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study.

EPPSE is a large-scale, longitudinal study of the progress and development of children from preschool to post-compulsory education. The study ran from 1997 to 2014, following nearly 2,600 children in six local authorities from early childhood to age 16.

The report is substantial. Focusing on academic attainment as measured by GCSE results, the key findings include:

There is an enduring effect of preschool. Attendance, quality, and duration at preschool all show long-term effects on academic outcomes.

  • The early years home learning environment has a long-term impact, and a stronger impact on all measures of GCSE results than free school meal eligibility.
  • Family income, measured in KS1 (age 5-7), showed large effects on the likelihood of achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE.
  • Parents’ highest qualification level (compared to no qualifications) was the strongest predictor of better attainment in GCSE English and achieving 5 A*-C including English and maths.
  • Ethnicity was a relatively strong predictor of total GCSE score and maths grades.
  • Pupils who had attended a more academically effective primary school for maths went on to gain better GCSE maths grades.
  • Secondary school quality and pupils’ experiences of school also influenced outcomes.
  • After taking into account other influences, girls and Autumn-born children generally scored higher at GCSE.

Source: Students’ Educational and Developmental Outcomes at Age 16 (2014), Department for Education.

Homework, attendance, and learning quality predict student success

Time spent on homework in the secondary years is a relatively strong predictor of pupil success in English, maths, and science. That is one of the findings of the latest report from the EPPSE project (the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education project), which has followed around 3,000 children since the age of 3 in 1997. Findings also indicate that the ratings given to secondary schools by Ofsted for the quality of pupils’ learning and learners’ attendance were good predictors of better attainment and progress. For example, better progress was made by EPPSE students in the three core subjects when they attended an “outstanding” compared to an “inadequate” school in terms of the Ofsted quality rating.

The report looks at a range of factors that influence children’s success across the following domains: individual student, family, and home; pre-school; primary school; and secondary school. The report concludes that there is no one factor alone which explains achievement and development; rather, it is the combination of factors that make a difference to young people’s long-term life chances.

Source: EPPSE 3 to 14 final report from the key stage 3 phase: influences on students’ development from age 11 to 14 (2012), Department for Education

What influences children in Year 9?

The Department for Education has published three new reports on the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education Project (EPPSE). EPPSE has followed around 3,000 children since 1997, when they were 3.

The latest reports look at the factors that influence Year 9 students’ social-behavioural outcomesmaths, English, and science outcomes; and a range of other measures, including enjoyment of school and anxiety.

There are many valuable findings, including, for example, that pupils who had a “positive transition” from primary school were more likely to have higher attainment in maths, English, and science. Time spent on homework was also a relatively strong predictor of better attainment and progress in all three core areas.

Source: EPPSE 3 to 14 final report from the key stage 3 phase: influences on students’ development from age 11 to 14 (2012), Department for Education.