Better evidence of what works is needed for early years pupil premium to be successful

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) welcomed today’s Government response to the early years pupil premium consultation and confirmed it will be funding trials to find out more about the effectiveness of different interventions in narrowing the attainment gap in the early years.

Research shows that children from the poorest backgrounds are 19 months behind their most affluent peers of the same age in their vocabulary development at the start of school. However there is little evidence about the most cost-effective measures to narrow that gap in the early years. The EEF will address that by conducting rigorous, independently evaluated trials of early years interventions as well as consolidating and disseminating the lessons that can be learnt from existing research.

Bids focusing on the early years are currently being sought by the EEF. These will be funded and evaluated from 2015. The EEF is particularly interested in approaches that support:

  • Early literacy and numeracy development
  • Home learning environment and parental engagement
  • Professional development, qualifications and leadership in early years settings

Dr Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the EEF, said:

"There is extensive research demonstrating the existence of 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.

“The new Early Years Pupil Premium increases the amount of support available for children from low income families, but its impact will depend on how well it is spent. That’s why developing a secure understanding of what really works is so critical. We are already taking steps to build an impartially evaluated evidence base which can be used to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.”

Notes to editors

  • 1.The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement through evidence-based research. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £52 million to 93 projects working with over 630,000 pupils in over 4,500 schools across England.
  • 2.The Sutton Trust/EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit covers 34 topics and summarises research from over 10,000 studies. The Toolkit will offer practitioners independent and accessible summaries of existing early years research. It is also regularly updated with the results of the EEF’s own trials.

A Sutton Trust Social Mobility Report in 2012 found a 19 month gap in school readiness between the richest and poorest four and five year olds in the UK