The Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) is a major longitudinal study of early years education following almost 6,000 children in England from age two through to the end of KS1 (age seven).

Latest reports (2020)

Early education and outcomes to age 5

Research into the impact of early education at ages 2 to 5 on child outcomes at the start of school, and the importance of the early years home environment.

Financial returns to early education spending

Research estimating the financial returns of early education as part of the study of early education and development (SEED).

Impact at age four

This report uncovers key factors associated with high quality experiences in early childhood education and care settings (ECEC).

As part of the SEED study, researchers measured quality in 1,000 settings caring for children aged from two to four years old.

The findings indicate that spending more time in quality early years’ education in group settings such as nurseries, nursery classes or playgroups between ages two to four can have a positive impact on the cognitive development and social and emotional development of children aged four years old – regardless of their social background. Additionally, children that spend more time with childminders were also found to have fewer emotional difficulties such as fears and worries.

The benefits of early years provision and research

Sue Robb from Action for Children talks about the benefits of early years provision and how this research can help us improve early years provision.

Study of Quality of Early Years Provision in England

This report uncovers key factors associated with high-quality in childcare and early years settings. Researchers measured quality in 1,000 childcare settings caring for children aged from two to four years old.

The study found that staff training and development, lower staff turnover and accepting a narrower range of ages at the setting were associated with higher quality provision across private, voluntary, nursery class and nursery school settings. A higher average level of staff qualification and having fewer children per member of staff were also associated with higher quality provision in private and voluntary settings.

Early years childcare beneficial for language and behavioural development

This report uncovers the effects of early education and childcare for two year olds. It found a significant positive effect of early education at age two on language and socio-emotional development when children were assessed at age three. The benefits of early education and care were found regardless of a child’s family level of disadvantage.

The study also found the beneficial effects of the home environment on child development, independent of the positive outcomes for early childhood education and care.  Notably, even children with rich home environments stand to benefit from time in early years education and care.

Another report  analyses the overall value for money of early education associated with different types of provision.

Early years practitioners share good practice

This report brings together the experiences of early years practitioners, who identified these three main themes as essential to good practice in early education settings:

  • Tailoring the curriculum to the needs of the children, including using assessment data to identify and support the needs of individual children.
  • A culture of self-evaluation and an environment that encourages providers to reflect on their own practice and that of their colleagues.
  • A skilled workforce – settings with good practice worked hard to recruit and retain high quality staff and prioritised ongoing support for their staff’s development.

This report was based on evidence from case studies of settings across England which included interviews with managers and staff at early years settings of different types, with parents using those settings and with local authority staff in those areas.

Further SEED reports:

Childminder report highlights factors distinguishing quality of care

This report identifies three key factors distinguishing the quality of care provided by childminders.

Key factors influencing quality include:

  • Participation in a quality improvement network: This had a positive influence on the quality of the childminder’s provision, particularly in distinguishing between those with a ‘good’ rating or higher from those with a lower rating.
  • Years of experience as a childminder: This factor distinguished outstanding settings from the rest.
  • A setting with a lower adult-to-child ratio (less children per adult) was more likely to have an adequate or above quality score, rather than a poor rating. Adult-to-child ratio did not appear to distinguish between the quality delivered at the higher end (adequate to good / outstanding).