Research & Publicity

Early Learning and Child Well-being in England, March 2020
This report presents the findings for England from the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS), and puts these findings in an international context with Estonia and the United States of America.

Download the research report from the OECD website

Key Findings

  • Children make greater progress if they have a positive and rich home learning environment. The activities that parents undertook with their child were significantly related to children’s early outcomes. For example, reading to children five to seven days a week was strongly associated with children’s emergent literacy development.
  • Children’s development is highly inter-related. Children showing greater cognitive development were more likely to show greater social-emotional development and vice versa.
  • Moderate use of computers, tablets and smart phones is appropriate for five-year-olds, providing it does not get in the way of other valuable activities between a parent and their child, such as having a conversation and reading them bedtime stories. Moderate use of around one to three times a month was associated with the highest levels of emergent literacy and children who used digital devices once a month had greater development in trust than those who never did so.
  • Five-year-olds in England performed well in Numeracy. The mean Emergent Numeracy score in England was significantly higher than the mean scores of both Estonia and the United States. Children in England also had similar Emergent Literacy, Mental Flexibility and Working Memory development to children in Estonia, and greater development in these areas than children in the United States.
  • IELS found differences in development between groups of children, particularly in relation to socio-economic status, developmental difficulties and low birthweight or premature birth. This is consistent with previous early years studies and can be used to help inform the support made available to these children, whilst providing a useful benchmark to measure progress.

International early learning and child well-being study (IELS) in England, Introduction to the research, August 2018

This report sets out the interim findings of England’s participation in the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS).  The report explains the study methods and sets out the operational findings of the field trial.

Download the research report from the gov.uk website

Key Findings

The field trial achieved high participation rates for children and teachers. The participation rate of parents/carers, though lower, was substantially higher than achieved in previous international studies in England:

  • 96% of sampled children participated, of which 95% completed all four domain assessments
  • 93% of teachers completed questionnaires about the sampled children
  • 58% of parents/carers of participating children completed questionnaires.

The field trial demonstrated that the design of the study is successful in ensuring children’s wellbeing, in particular:

  • Administering the tablet activities over two days worked well: children wanted to return on the second day to complete the activities and study administrators reported that spacing of the activities in this way was appropriate for children of this age.
  • The vast majority of children were fully engaged and that even those who had no previous experience of using a tablet found the technology easy to use.
  • Children reported that they enjoyed the tasks.

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