Narrowing the Gap in Outcomes: Early Years (0-5)

Mary Atkinson, Iain Springate, Emily Lamont, Suzanne Straw, Hilary Grayson

14 November 2008

This report was commissioned by the LGA to inform the DCSF and LGA work on 'Narrowing the Gap'. It focuses on early years' provision and presents findings from a review of the best evidence on narrowing the gap in outcomes across the five Every Child Matters (ECM) areas for vulnerable groups in the context of improving outcomes for all.

In general, the evidence demonstrates that interventions focused on children in their early years have the potential to improve outcomes that are fundamental to their future life chances, and to narrow the gap between disadvantaged and other children. Improvements in cognitive development, social/behavioural development, and health outcomes can be achieved in the short-term, and there is some evidence that these outcomes can be sustained into later life.

Four cross-cutting themes are identified as contributing to successful practice. These are the involvement of parents; the delivery of interventions that are of high quality, delivered by qualified and skilled professionals; interventions that are able to meet the specific needs of the individual child and, if appropriate, their family; and interventions that help build constructive relationships between adults (staff and parents) and children.

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