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Study to assess ways of reducing inequality in early-years education

26/05/2017 Joanna

A new research project is being launched to identify methods of addressing inequalities in educational outcomes among children in their early years.

The Education Endowment Foundation is partnering with the Nuffield Foundation to carry out the study, which aims to build up a more solid evidence base of effective methods of improving outcomes for disadvantaged children in early-years education.

Funding for seven trials reaching around 9,000 nurseries and schools has already been confirmed by the Education Endowment Foundation, but the organisation is keen to receive more high-quality applications specifically targeting early-years teaching, as knowledge in this area is lacking compared to the respective knowledge base for school-age pupils.

As such, the Nuffield Foundation will be funding the development and evaluation of early-years interventions that seek to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children, but that currently have a limited evidence base. It is hoped that enough evidence can be generated to identify strong candidates for funding future large-scale trials.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: "There is extensive research demonstrating an attainment gap in the early years, the impact of this gap on later educational outcomes, and the value of high-quality early years provision for disadvantaged pupils.

"We also know a fair amount about the strategies which are most effective for young children ... However, there is less strong evidence to indicate which specific interventions are most effective in improving children's learning and development."

It is well established that gaps in educational outcomes often emerge between children from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds at an extremely early stage. At the start of school, children from the poorest upbringings are estimated to be 19 months behind their most affluent peers in terms of the development of their vocabulary.

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