According to researchers, attending a quality pre-school and primary school has a greater impact on a child’s academic progress than their gender or family background. The study conducted by the Institute of Education revealed that the standard of teaching plays a vital role in a child’s development, surpassing gender and income. The findings show that attending a high-quality pre-school followed by an academically effective primary school significantly enhances a child’s developmental progress. Nonetheless, children require a stimulating early home learning environment as well.
The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education project tracked the progress of nearly 3,000 children from their time in pre-school until the age of eleven. While all children benefit from attending a good pre-school, the study concluded that high-quality education is particularly crucial for those with special educational needs, low-qualification mothers, or those from unstimulating households. Moreover, quality teaching during primary school impacts a child’s intellectual progress and social behaviour.
The research showed significant variation in the quality of teaching when children reach ten years old, which influences academic progress more than gender or free school meals. Students attending a highly effective primary school display better attainment and development in key stage two (ages seven to eleven) than those in less effective schools. Very disadvantaged children, in particular, benefit immensely from an academically effective primary school.
While quality schools influence academic progress, researchers found that the home environment is also essential. A stimulating home environment for children aged three to four is linked to long-term gains in their development and impacts a child’s progress equally to their mother’s qualifications. Children with higher parental qualifications perform better academically and socially at age eleven.
Professor Pam Sammons, a lead researcher at the University of Nottingham, said, "The research confirms the importance of early experiences and the powerful combination of home, pre-school, and primary school in improving children’s learning."