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The effect of starting pre-school at age 2 on long term academic and social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6 for more deprived children: Analyses conducted for the Strategy Unit

Sylva, K; Melhuish, E; Sammons, P; Siraj-Blatchford, I; Taggart, B; Hunt, S; Jelicic, H; (2012) The effect of starting pre-school at age 2 on long term academic and social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6 for more deprived children: Analyses conducted for the Strategy Unit. UCL Institute of Education: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The research reported here examines whether age of starting pre-school has a significant effect on children’s later academic and social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6 for more disadvantaged children. The EPPE 3-11 reports on Year 6 academic and social-behavioural outcomes showed that the duration of pre-school does not have any main effect on outcomes in Year 6 (Sammons et al., 2008a; 2008b). However, the analysis reported in this paper explored whether or not age of starting pre-school has a differential effect for certain groups of children. The findings showed that differential effects of attending pre-school at age 2 compared to age 3+ were not evident, in either academic or social-behavioural outcomes, for children eligible for Free School Meals (FSM), and for children whose mothers have low educational qualifications compared to those with mothers who have higher educational qualifications. There was a difference, however, between attending pre-school at age 2 compared to age 3+ in English attainment in Year 6 for children classified as being of high multiple disadvantage1, with those starting earlier showing higher attainment (ES=0.19). Also, children from families with medium income and children from families of medium SES (i.e. skilled manual/skilled non-manual) had better ‘self-regulation’ in Year 6 if they started pre-school at age 2 compared to those who started pre-school later at age 3+ (ES=0.18 for medium SES and ES=0.22 for medium income level). Note that this is the largest SES category in the sample and they represent what might be called “typical families”. However, there was a difference between children from families with no earned salary (i.e., unemployed families): those who started pre-school at age 2 showed somewhat lower ‘pro-social’ behaviour in Year 6 compared to children from these families who started pre-school at age 3+ (ES=-0.35). In interpreting this last negative finding, we are aware that there may have been pressing reasons for an early start for this sub-group (e.g., social service referral) but we have no data to examine these possibilities further. As mentioned above, the findings from reports on academic or social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6 showed that duration of pre-school (reflecting early start) has no continuing main effect for either academic or social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6. However, the findings reported here show that duration has a modest differential effect for certain groups of children for some academic and social-behavioural outcomes. Previous research conducted by EPPE has shown that the combination of early start (age 2) at pre-school and attending a high quality pre-school has the greatest benefit for Year 1 and 2 outcomes in reading and maths (Sammons et al., 2004a; 2004b). Significant positive effects for pre-school duration were identified at this age and at start of primary school. However, Sammons et al (2008a; 2008b) has shown that the quality of pre-school has the strongest effect on Year 6 outcomes of all pre-school measures. For this reason, the effect of pre-school duration from age 2 should be combined alongside the effects of attending pre-school of high quality, because quality appears to be especially important for disadvantaged groups (both in later academic and social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6; Sammons et al., 2008a; 2008b).

Type: Report
Title: The effect of starting pre-school at age 2 on long term academic and social-behavioural outcomes in Year 6 for more deprived children: Analyses conducted for the Strategy Unit
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10096935
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