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Equal access to high quality early education and care? Evidence from England and lessons from other countries

Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Publication Date
  • Hq The Family. Marriage. Woman
  • Hv Social Pathology. Social And Public Welfare. Criminology
  • Economics
  • Education


Microsoft Word - CASE brief 32 v9.docx CASEbrief 32 March 2013 Equal access to high quality early education and care? Evidence from England and lessons from other countries Ludovica Gambaro, Kitty Stewart and Jane Waldfogel Background A growing body of evidence highlights the importance of high quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) for children’s later life chances. All children stand to benefit but research consistently finds that excellent provision makes the most difference to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. These messages have resonated with policymakers in the UK, where the availability, affordability and quality of ECEC have been on the agenda since the late 1990s. Yet the system of provision has developed into a complicated patchwork, in which providers from the private, voluntary and maintained (state) sectors are subject to different regulations, and cost varies from free to prohibitively expensive depending on children’s age, their geographic location and their parents’ employment status and income. Against this background, our project had two main aims. First, we set out to examine the relationships between cost, quality and children’s social background in England (and, where possible, in other parts of the UK) by combining a number of different datasets. In particular, we explored whether and how the quality of ECEC provision varies with social background. We also looked at the relationship between cost and social background. Second, we aimed to examine how a range of other countries manage the provision of ECEC, and specifically whether they have greater success in ensuring access to high quality provision for disadvantaged children. Focusing on other countries where the private and voluntary sectors are involved in delivery, we were interested in the way that funding and regulation mechanisms operate to ensure access to high quality ECEC to families with the most to gain, and in whether experience elsew

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