What makes for great early years education? New study seeks to find out

04-Oct-2013 This week sees the launch of an exciting new partnership project for the  Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) working together with NFER and IEA in Hamburg to develop the ‘Early Childhood Education Study (ECES)’ – an important new international study of how different countries provide for their youngest learners, and the effect this provision has on shaping their lives. With so much recent discussion and political debate around which country’s Early Years system offers the best start in life it is anticipated that this study will shed real light on the subject. This project will look beyond the narrow parameters of language, literacy and numeracy and will also consider children’s social & emotional, physical, dispositional & learning competences, which when considered together can help identify those systems which effectively equip young children with the lifelong learning skills which are the building blocks of later success – highly topical given David Cameron’s focus this week on the UK’s exceptionally high number of NEETs.  

The study is being run by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and will be unveiled officially at the 54th IEA General Assembly on Friday in Lisbon.

CREC is delighted to be playing a key role in this project. Led by Professor Chris Pascal and Professor Tony Bertram, CREC will be leading on the development and production of the policy questionnaire and the child assessment module as well as supporting our project partners on other aspects of the research and analysis.


The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is pleased to announce the launch of the Early Childhood Education Study (ECES), a major new cross-national research project that aims to explore, describe, and analyze early childhood education provision and its role in preparing children for school and lifelong learning.
The study has been developed through a partnership of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), and IEA Data Processing and Research Center in response to growing awareness of the crucial part early childhood education plays in children’s later success and the value of investing in high-quality provision for children and families, particularly those from economically or socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
In this ambitious study, the ECES research team has set out to examine how early education policies, practices, and outcomes relate in different countries across the world. The study will include a comprehensive assessment of child outcomes, and data will also be collected from policy makers, early childhood education settings, practitioners, and parents.
The project will run until 2018, with the main phase of the data collection taking place in 2016. The results will be released in a series of reports in 2016–2018.
The main focus of the study is on how early childhood education (ECE) contributes to children’s skills, learning dispositions and competencies by the time they start formal education. The study will investigate the variations in outcomes of children attending ECE within and between countries, and which aspects of policy and practice are related to positive outcomes for children’s early learning and development.

“Each country faces its own particular challenges toward achieving an equitable, high-quality early childhood education system,” explains Dr Hans Wagemaker, IEA Executive Director. Countries that participate in the study will be able to collect evidence on key aspects of their children’s transition to school and preparation for wider society. Importantly, he adds, “ECES will enable participating countries to thoughtfully examine their own goals and policies in this critical area, and to learn from each other’s best practices.”


For information on country enrollment, please contact Dr Paulína Koršňáková at the IEA Secretariat www.iea.nl, p.korsnakova@iea.nl, +31 20 625 3625.
For further information about ECES, please contact Juliane Hencke at the IEA Data Processing and Research Center, eces@iea-dpc.de, +49 40 48 500 701.


About IEA
IEA is an independent, international cooperative of national research institutions and governmental research agencies that has conducted cross-national studies of educational achievement and other aspects of education for over fifty years.
Through its comparative research and assessment projects, IEA aims to contribute to a deep understanding of educational processes within individual countries and across a broad international context, and provide international benchmarks to assist policy makers in identifying the relative strengths and weaknesses of their education systems.
About CREC
CREC – Centre for Research in Early Childhood – is the home of CREC in Birmingham (Charitable Trust) and Amber Publications & Training Ltd (APT). Led by Professor Dr Chris Pascal & Professor Dr Tony Bertram, CREC specialises in early childhood research which has relevant and meaningful outcomes for practice and policy, both in the UK and internationally. Its research is often transformed into training and development programmes designed for the specific needs of the early years sector. www.crec.co.uk
About NFER
NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services. It aims to make a difference to learners of all ages, especially to the lives of children and young people, by supporting improvement in the practice and understanding of those who work with and for learners. www.nfer.ac.uk

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