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The OECD International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study in England

Parents and carers

Help us to understand more about how best to support children’s wellbeing and their early experiences of learning.

Thank you to the children, parents and carers involved in the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS) field trial in October and November 2017. The results from the children’s activities and questionnaires from parents/carers and teachers are being analysed by the international research team. The aspects that worked well will be taken forward to the main study in October and November 2018.

Later this year, we will contact the 3,000 families selected to take part in the IELS main study.

What is IELS?

IELS is a new international study designed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It aims to understand the influence of early education experiences, home environment and individual characteristics on children’s development by the age of five. The ultimate goal of the study is to provide evidence that can improve children’s early learning outcomes and overall wellbeing.

Each child will complete educational games and story-based activities that will help us understand the range of things children can do at age five. IELS looks at children’s early skills in language and literacy, numeracy, memory and other cognitive skills, social skills and other aspects of wellbeing. It will take into account things you tell us about your child’s background and early education and care. Your child’s teacher will also complete a questionnaire telling us about their background and teaching experiences, and their observations of your child’s development based on things your child does in school.

For more information about IELS, please visit the About IELS page.

How are schools and children chosen to participate?

Thirty-two schools and 480 children were randomly selected to take part in the field trial and 202 schools have been selected to represent England in the main study, which will involve over 3,000 children.

Random selection helps to ensure unbiased results that can be used to tell us about children’s development in general. We can only include the schools and children that have been randomly selected for the study.

Why is it important that my child and I take part?

The first five years of a child’s life is crucial to their development. During this period, children learn at a faster rate than at any other time in their lives, developing basic skills that are fundamental for their future achievements in school and later on as an adult. These skills are also the foundation for their general well-being – how they respond to future successes and setbacks.

By taking part, you and your child will provide vital information to help support and improve children’s early development. It is very important that the selected children and parents or carers take part so that we can represent a wide range of participants across the country. 

We are confident that the children will enjoy taking part and we hope children and their parents or carers will be willing to participate and help make the study a success.

What is involved?

Children will complete games and story-based activities on a tablet with an experienced study administrator. The activities are designed to be fun and engaging for children of age five. There are four sessions, each taking 15-20 minutes, which children complete over two days in school. All of our study administrators are carefully chosen and their references checked (including an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check). They are qualified teachers, familiar with young children, and specially trained to administer the study.

What will we ask parents and carers to do?

Parents/carers will be asked to complete a questionnaire, providing key information on their child’s early experiences, abilities and interests.

What if a child does not enjoy the activities?

If a child shows signs that they are not enjoying the activities the study administrator will invite them to move on to a different activity. The study administrators will not press any child to continue if they are unhappy about taking part.

Who is carrying out the study?

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to carry out the study in England.

How will we look after your data?

We take privacy and confidentiality very seriously. The data will be processed in line with the Data Protection Act and General Data Protection Regulation. All information will be held securely and no individual child, parent, carer or teacher will be identified or identifiable in any reporting.

For further information about confidentiality please view the privacy notice at this link: