About IELS

The OECD International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS) is an exciting new research study that provides an opportunity to understand better the role of children’s early childcare experiences and home environment on children’s development and well-being.

This study will collect high quality, holistic information to investigate a range of outcomes, including social and emotional well-being and self-regulation, as well as emerging language and numeracy skills. Some of the measures will be collected from parents/carers and teachers, whereas others will be assessed directly using story- and game-based activities on tablet devices. The findings from this study will then be used to help countries better support children’s early development.

What does the IELS study involve?

IELS will collect robust information about the cognitive and social-emotional development of children around the world.

Each child will be invited to take part in a number of short and engaging activities on a tablet. The four main skills being appraised in these activities are: social and emotional skills, self-regulation, and emerging literacy and numeracy.

Parents/carers and school teachers will be asked to complete a questionnaire about each child’s developing skills and background. And teachers will be asked to provide some brief information about their professional background and experience.

All responses from questionnaires and the information from activities are strictly confidential. Findings will never be presented at school level or identify schools, teachers, parents/carers or children.

Who is conducting the IELS study in England?

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is responsible for overseeing IELS in England, on behalf of the Department for Education. NFER is a leading independent provider of education research and insights, including research in the early years.

OECD has developed the study with the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), which is the international study centre. ACER is responsible for the development of the activities, questionnaires and the management of the study at an international level.

IELS timeline

In November and December 2017, children, teachers and parents/carers from 32 schools in England participated in the IELS field trial. Children, parents/carers and education professionals from other participating countries also took part. The results of the activities children completed 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.

From March 2018 – the 202 schools in England selected to participate in the main study will be contacted by NFER. We will support schools throughout their participation to ensure that it is a pleasant and rewarding experience for children, parents/carers and schools.

October – November 2018 - Children, parents/carers and schools take part in the main study. This involves at least 3000 children and parents/carers in 200 schools in each country.

From Spring 2019 - international researchers collate and analyse the responses from all participating countries and prepare reports on the findings. The final report and England’s national report will be published in 2020.