Does early education influence Key Stage I attainment? Evidence from England for the millennium cohort study

Publication date: 2 Nov 2012 | Publication type: National Institute Economic Review | Theme: Trade, Investment & Productivity, Employment & Social policy | NIESR Author(s): Stokes, L; Wilkinson, D. | External Author(s): George. A No. 222

There is a body of evidence that shows that early education improves cognitive and social development for children while they are still attending, but the longer-term impacts depend on the quality of early education. Much of this evidence in England relates to a period when attendance rates at early education were around 60 per cent. Since then, early education has expanded through the guarantee of free provision for three- and four-year-olds, such that attendance at early education is now almost universal. This paper uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study to consider whether, in an era of near universal provision, early education is still associated with detectable improvements in outcomes for children. The analysis focuses on attainment in Key Stage 1 assessments when children were aged seven and finds that the overall impact of early education on Key Stage 1 attainment is modest, but that the impact is generally greater for those children who experienced poverty when they entered early education.