EPPE 3-11 has typically used age standardised tests when measuring cognitive attainment and progress as the exact age of a pupil (within an academic year group) can exercise an influence on their cognitive performance. Specifically, the younger the pupil (in their academic year) the poorer their performance tends to be, compared to the older pupils: older pupils having a developmental advantage (Crawford, Dearden & Meghir, 2007).
An analysis was conducted placing pupils into seasons (roughly equating to academic terms) of
birth from oldest to youngest as follows:
Autumn born (September, October, November and December) for a September academic intake; Spring (January, February, March, April);
Summer (May, June, July, and August);
for attainment, in Key Stage 2 English and Mathematics (by level achieved).
Tables 7 and 8 (below) indicate a greater frequency of Level 5 attainment (the highest level at KS2) for older pupils compared to Summer born.
Table 7: English Attainment Level at KS2 and Season of Birth (n=2810)
Season/Term Child Born
Autumn Spring Summer Key Stage 2 Academic level n % n % n % No level awarded 39 4.2 57 5.5 60 7.0 Level 2 8 0.9 9 0.9 12 1.4 Level 3 116 12.6 166 16.1 148 17.2 Level 4 448 48.5 511 49.7 438 51.0 Level 5 313 33.9 285 27.7 200 23.3 Total 924 100 1028 100 858 100
Table 8: Mathematics Attainment Level at KS2 and Season of Birth (n=2810)
Season/Term Child Born
Autumn Spring Summer Key Stage 2 Academic level n % n % n % No level awarded 44 4.8 64 6.2 60 7.0 Level 2 8 0.9 14 1.4 8 0.9 Level 3 151 16.3 206 20.0 174 20.3 Level 4 393 42.5 436 42.4 408 47.6 Level 5 328 35.5 308 30.0 208 24.2 Total 924 100 1028 100 858 100 One possible consequence of the difference in cognitive performance by age is a greater likelihood of younger children being identified, possibly erroneously, as having special educational needs (SEN). Table 9 (below) indicates that there is such a difference, with a greater proportion of younger pupils being identified as SEN compared to older pupils. Table 9: SEN Identified Up to End KS2 by Season of Birth (n=2718)
Season/Term Child Born
Autumn Spring Summer
Table 9:SEN Status n % n % n % SEN identified 318 35.8 402 40.4 375 45.0 No SEN identified 64.2 73.7 593 59.6 459 55.0 Total 889 100 995 100 834 100
Section 9: Concluding discussion
The EPPE 3-11 study set out to answer two overarching questions:
• Do the cognitive and social/behavioural benefits of pre-school that were found at ages 5 and 7 years last to the end of Key Stage 2 at age 11?
• How do experiences in primary school, especially in Key Stage 2, interact with the effects of pre-school to shape pupils’ developmental trajectories?
Although these were the key research questions, there was also interest in special groups of children such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds, girls/boys, children from minority ethnic groups, and those with special educational needs (SEN). We have considered the influences related to the individual child, family demographics, to the Early years home learning
environment (HLE) and to the community in which the pupil lives.In this report we have shown that the patterns of individual and social influence can change over time. Some background influences are more powerful than pre- or primary school effects but others are not. And some influences seem to be somewhat stronger early on, but less so as children progress through primary school. After taking background characteristics into account, EPPE 3-11 has shown that the contribution of pre-school continues to have significant though modest effects through to age 11.
Primary school matters too, and by age 11 its effects are stronger than those of pre-school or of family characteristics like low income. In addition, the results show that the effects of primary school are relatively stronger for Mathematics than English attainment at age 11. EPPE 3-11 investigated the kinds of classroom practices and school processes that contribute to positive development in children. This focus on primary education was very important in the research because pre-school effects are not stamped indelibly on a child’s life but interact with home and subsequent phases of education.
1 The lasting effects of pre-school, including the contribution of quality
Attendance at pre-school was beneficial in Key Stage 2 (KS2) for both academic and
social/behavioural outcomes, as well as pupils’ self-perceptions. Importantly the quality of the pre-school (measured on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales) was positively
associated with pupils’ developmental outcomes for English, Mathematics, ‘Self-regulation’, ‘Pro- social’ behaviour, (reduced) ‘Hyperactivity’ and ‘Anti-social’ behaviour. For all social outcomes, the benefits of pre-school were higher for boys, for pupils with special educational needs (SEN), and for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, for some of the outcomes, notably English, Mathematics and ‘Hyperactivity’, only pre-schools of medium or high quality had lasting effects.
The longer term effects of different kinds of quality have become apparent:
First, the quality of the pre-school has a positive impact not only on children’s attainment at the start of school but also on their value-added progress up to the age of 11. This suggests that
pre-school not only enhances skills at the start of school, it also appears to support children in learning-how-to-learn. It is this that enables them to make more progress during primary school compared to the home children.
Second, the contribution of different kinds of quality in the pre-school become clear. EPPE used two measures of pre-school quality. The ECERS-R measures a care-oriented ‘child centred’ approach during the pre-school years while the ECERS-E measures the quality of specific educational provision related to language, literacy, mathematics, science/environment and means of catering for diversity in children. At age 7 we found that the more global child-centred quality was positively related to children’s social behavioural development but less so to cognitive development.