October’s report on pre-school and early home learning effects on A-level outcomes (DFE-RR472A) has some heartening things to say for us who are struggling as Children’s Centres are closing, reshaping or simply looking gloomily at their money being taken away. Lasting impact to AS level; lasting impact beyond that for young people whose background is more problematic.
I’m going to put up part of the executive summary, partly for my students (yes, you: now look up the full text, linked above), but also because it never hurts to keep saying these things:
• There are continuing effects of pre-school at age 17. EPPSE students who had attended any pre-school were more likely to enter AS-level exams (mostly taken at age 17) than those who had not. In addition, if they attended a high quality pre-school they were twice as likely as those who hadn’t attended pre-school to take AS-levels.
• However, for most students the pre-school effect had disappeared by the time they took A-levels (generally at age 18) as there were no continuing effects of pre-school at entry to A-level exams or on the grades students achieved in them.
• Separate analysis for the Sutton Trust (Sammons, Toth and Sylva, 2015) showed that there is lasting impact of pre-school for the specific sub-group of disadvantaged young people who were classed as ‘high achievers’ at the end of primary school.
Home learning environment
• The quality of the home learning environment EPPSE students experienced before they attended school does have a continuing effect at ages 17 and 18. EPPSE students who experienced a good early HLE were more likely to enter AS-levels, A-levels, and have higher attainment in terms of KS5 point scores.
And beyond? Well, the implications for how we and the Higher Education students with whom we engage see the role of Early Childhood is a start: coming into the sector “to make a difference” really does seem to work.