Research indicates there is little evidence to suggest the introduction of the 2-year-old entitlement to government funded childcare has improved early years educational outcomes of poorer children.
The expansion of government-funded childcare to disadvantaged 2-year-olds was specifically targeted at reducing the early years attainment gap and was intended to better prepare disadvantaged children for the start of formal schooling. However, analysis by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) found that the two-year-old offer delivered only "modest" improvement in educational outcomes for children from such backgrounds.
The research proposes that the following barriers should be explored more thoroughly to understand the reasons for this:
• The youngest children are shown to be significantly less likely to have taken up the entitlement. Understanding the barriers to younger children attending (whether this is linked to parental preferences or difficulties faced by providers in accepting children part-way through the academic year) could help ensure children benefit from the full entitlement.
• There are cultural and potentially language barriers to attending childcare, with children less likely to attend if they are from non-White British backgrounds and where English is a second language spoken at home. Understanding how to reach out to these communities and supporting them in attending childcare could significantly boost take-up.
• In relation to factors outside the home, maintained providers appear less likely to offer 2-year-old places. Looking at measures to get maintained providers to expand places to 2-year-olds or to get new private and voluntary providers to open in areas with high levels of maintained provision, should be considered.
The full report can be found here