School of Education
University of Edinburgh
7th June 2011
The effects of early experiences at home
and pre-school on learning how to learn
Professor Kathy Sylva
University of Oxford
The EPPE/EPPSE Team
Principal Investigators:
Kathy Sylva Department of Education, University of Oxford
Edward Melhuish Birkbeck, University of London
Pam Sammons Department of Education, University of Oxford
Iram Siraj-Blatchford Institute of Education, University of London
Brenda Taggart Institute of Education, University of London
An educational effectiveness approach:
fixed effects
The EPPE Project has shown the
contribution of families and educational
settings to children’s developmental
progress 3–11 years. It uses an
educational or school effectiveness
design which investigates ‘natural’
variation using multi-level modelling
(pupil and class/school level)
The EPPE Sample
 Six local authorities strategically selected in England
 141 pre-school centres randomly selected within the
authorities to include: playgroups, nursery classes,
private day nurseries, day care centres run by local
authorities, nursery schools and integrated centres
 2800 randomly selected children from 141 centres;
300 from home
 Linked study of 800 children in Northern Ireland;
‘strength of replication’
The EPPE Mixed Method Design
EPPE has an ‘educational
effectiveness’ design which
includes both:

Quantitative (led by Sammons)
(comparisons of outcomes taking account of
child, family and home environment)
and
 Qualitative methods (led by
Siraj-Blatchford)
(detailed case studies of ‘effective’ settings).
Design of EPPE 3-11: 6 LA, 141 pre-schools,
3,000 children
Pre-school
Provision (3+ yrs)
Reception
Yr 1
Yr 2
Yr 5
Yr 6
25 nursery classes
590 children
34 playgroups
610 children
31 private day nurseries
520 children
Key Stage 1
Key Stage 2
600 Schools
1000 Schools
20 nursery schools
520 children
24 local authority day care nurseries
430 children
7 integrated centres
190 children
home
310 children
Bronfenbrenner’s model of
human development
Cultural context
Immediate environment
The
Developing
Child
Family
Settings
Neighbourhood
Social and economic
context
Different influences on child outcomes
Family
Factors
Child
Factors
Cognitive outcomes:
English & maths
Social/Behavioural:
Self Regulation
HomeLearningEnvironment
Likes to work things out for self
Pro-social
Considerate of others feelings
Hyperactivity
Pre-School
Primary
School
Restless, cannot stay still for
long
Anti-social
Has been in trouble with the law
Secondary
School
Sources of data

Child assessments over
time

Child/Family background
information, e.g., SES,
birthweight

Interviews with all parents

Case studies of settings and
also of children who were
‘resilient’

Observation rating scales
Average Reading and Maths at Age 10 by Gender
140
Gender +
Attainment at
age 10
Mean (Standardized Score)
120
99.1
100
101.0
100.3
99.6
80
60
40
20
N = 1300
N =1249
N = 1289
N = 1249
Male
Female
0
Reading
Multiple
disadvantage +
Attainment
Mean (Standardized Score)
140
Maths
Average Reading and Maths at Age 10 by Multiple Disadvantage
120
106.2
105.6
100.6
100
100.2
91.7
90.2
80
60
40
20
N = 564
N =1458
N = 336
N = 561
N =1449
0
Reading
Maths
N = 333
No Disadvantage
1 to 3
4+
Early Years Home Learning
Environment (HLE at ages 3-4 years)
HLE index constructed (Melhuish, 2001), measuring frequency
of the following activities:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Reading with child
Painting and drawing
Library visits
Playing with letters/numbers
Teaching alphabet
Playing or teaching numbers/shapes
Playing with songs/nursery
rhymes
HLE index related to children’s BAS
scores, measures of socio-economic
status and educational
qualifications of parents.
0.8
Net Effect of Early Home-Learning Environment on Maths at Age 10
0.7
Effect Size
0.6
0.57
0.5
0.40
0.4
0.3
0.21
0.22
14-19
20-24
R
0.2
0.1
0.0
25-32
HLE Index (Pre-School)
33-45
Qualitative case studies (Iram SirajBlatchford, in press) on resilient
children were carried out across the
study
Excerpts from parents of a resilient child
from an ethnic minority background
Daniella’s Father: We did our best because it was
always when [Daniella] was born I was a bus driver
so I was always there swapping shifts to be at home
in the evenings and if I wasn’t there the mum was
always there so we feel we’ve done well.
Daniella’s Mother: I did most of the thing but if I
am at work then she would do it in the evenings.
Most times I always try, he will be there and sit
down with them, if I am in the kitchen, you know,
he will help them out with their studies and reading
and stuff. And when I am free I will join in as well.
Excerpt from a working class girl
Lorraine: I didn’t know the sounds of
the letters, I knew how to say them,
like ABC, but not “a”, “buh”, “cuh”,
because that’s what they were
teaching then, that’s what the preschool tried to teach me, but my
mum had taught me the ABC, so I
had to get used to a totally new
thing.
And … attainment is only half the story
Not only may the experience at home
provide something not readily available in
school but also it seems that the skills
involved apply as much to the process of
attention, perseverance, task performance
and work organisation as to particular areas
of knowledge. Learning how to learn may be
as important as the specifics of what is
learned. (Rutter, 1985)
Two Early Childhood Environment
Rating Scales
ECERS-R
ECERS-E

Based on observation

Based on observation

7 sub-scales:

4 sub-scales:








Space and furnishings
Personal care routines
Language reasoning
Activities
Interaction
Programme structure
Parents and staff
Harms, Clifford & Cryer (1998)


Literacy

Mathematics

Science and environment

Diversity
Sylva, Siraj-Blatchford &
Taggart (2010)
Example ECERS-R item: Greeting/departing (Personal Care
Routines)
Inadequate
1
Minimal
2
3
Good
4
5
Excellent
6
7
1.1 Greeting of children
is often neglected
3.1 Most children greeted
warmly (Ex. staff seem
pleased to see children,
smile, use pleasant tone
of voice)
5.1 Each child is greeted
individually (Ex. staff say
“hello” and use child’s
name; use child’s
primary language spoken
at home to say “hello”)
7.1 When they arrive,
children are helped to
become involved in
activities, if needed
1.2 Departure is not well
organised
3.2 Departure well
organised (Ex. children’s
things reading to go)
5.2 Pleasant departure
(Ex. children not rushed,
hugs and good-byes for
everyone)
7.2 Children busily
involved until departure
(Ex. no long waiting
without activity; allowed
to come to comfortable
stopping point in play)
1.3 Parents not allowed
to bring children into the
classroom
3.3 Parents allowed to
bring children into the
classroom
5.3 Parents greeted
warmly by staff
7.3 Staff use greeting
and departure as
information sharing time
with parents
Example ECERS-E item: Sounds in words (Literacy)
Inadequate
1
Minimal
2
1.1 Few or no rhymes or
poems are spoken or
sung
3
Good
4
5
Excellent
6
7
3.1 Rhymes are often
spoken or sung by
adults to children
5.1 The rhyming
components of songs or
rhymes are brought to
the attention of children
7.1 Attention is paid to
syllabification of words
(Ex. through clapping
games, jumping)
3.2 Children are
encouraged to speak
and/or sing rhymes
5.2 The initial sounds in
words are brought to the
attention of children
7.2 Some attention is
given to linking sounds
to letters
Example ECERS-E item: Food preparation (Science)
Inadequate
1
Minimal
2
1.1 No preparation of
food/drink is undertaken
in front of children
3
Good
4
5
Excellent
6
7
3.1 Food preparation is
undertaken by staff in
front of the children
5.1 Food preparation /
cooking activities are
provided regularly
7.1 A variety of cooking
activities in which all
children may take part
are provided regularly
3.2 Some children can
choose to participate in
food preparation
5.2 Most of the children
have the opportunity to
participate in food
preparation
7.2 The ingredients are
attractive and the end
result is edible and
appreciated
3.3 Some food-related
discussion takes place
where appropriate
5.3 The staff lead
discussion about the
food involved and use
appropriate language
7.3 The staff lead and
encourage discussion on
the process of food
preparation and/or
question children about it
5.4 Children are
encouraged to use more
than one sense (feel,
smell, taste) to explore
raw ingredients
ECERS-E subscales by manager
qualification
ECERS-E score
5
4
3
2
1
0
Literacy
Mathematics
Level 2
Science and environment
Level 3 / 4
Level 5
Diversity
impact
pre-school pedagogical
quality
The The
impact
of of
Pre-school
quality (ECERS-E)
on
(ECERS-E) on English and Mathematics in Year 6
English & Mathematics in Year 6
Net Effect of Quality (ECERS-E) of Pre-School
on English and Mathematics at Age 11
0.50
English
Mathematics
Effect Size
0.40
0.34
0.29
0.30
0.26
0.22
0.20
0.12
0.12
Reference Group:
Home Children
0.10
0.00
Low Quality
Medium Quality
High Quality
Effects of the ECERS-R on academic
attainment
There is no effect of the
ECERS-R on English or
Mathematics at age 11
The social behavioural outcomes
(Goodman scale extended)

Hyperactivity
e.g. Restless, overactive, cannot stay still for long’

Self regulation
e.g. ‘Likes to work out things for self’

Pro-social behaviour
e.g. ‘Considerate of other people’s feelings’

Antisocial behaviour
e.g. ‘Has been in trouble with the law’
The impact of Pre-school quality (ECERS
Self regulation
and Pro-social
The impact of pre-school
quality (ECERS-R
and
Effect Sizes: Self-regulation
Effect Sizes: Self-regulation
0.30
0.30
0.25
0.25
0.20
0.20
0.15
0.15
0.15
0.15
0.10
0.10
0.05
0.05
0.00
0.00
0.25
0.25
0.24
0.24
0.17
0.17
Pre-school Quality
Pre-school Quality
(ECERS-R)
(ECERS-R)
0.30
0.30
0.25
0.25
0.20
0.20
0.15
0.15
0.10
0.10
0.06
0.06
0.00
0.00
Effect Sizes: Pro-social Behaviour
Effect Sizes: Pro-social Behaviour
ECERS-E) on self-regulation at age 11
0.02
0.00 0.02
0.00
Pre-school Quality
Pre-school Quality
(ECERS-E)
(ECERS-E)
0.05
0.05
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
Pre-s
Pre
(E
and Anti-social Behaviour
Effect Sizes: Anti-social behaviour
Effect Sizes: Anti-social behaviour
The impact of pre-school quality (ECERS-R and
ECERS-E) on anti-social behaviour at age 11
0.00
0.00
-0.05
-0.05
14
-0.10
-0.10
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
-0.05
-0.05
-0.08
-0.08
-0.08
-0.08
-0.10
-0.10
-0.15
-0.15
0.02
0.02
uality
Quality
E)
S-E)
-0.20
-0.20
-0.25
-0.25
-0.23
-0.23
-0.22
-0.22
-0.30
-0.30
Pre-school Quality
Pre-school Quality
(ECERS-R)
(ECERS-R)
Pre-school Quality
Pre-school Quality
(ECERS-E)
(ECERS-E)
Mathematics attainment
The combined impact of pre-school quality and
HLE on Mathematics attainment
0.42 0.7
0.42
0.6
Effect Size
0.00
0.00
0.41
0.41
Reference Group:
Low HLE and No Pre-School
0.26
0.26 0.51
0.19
0.19
0.5
0.18 0.17
0.18 0.17
No Pre School
Low Quality
Medium Quality
High Quality
and Pre-School Quality (ECERS-E) on
The Combined Impact of Early Years HLE0.46
0.46 in Year 6Home children
Attainment in Mathematics
0.12
0.12
0.4
0.17
0.17
0.36
0.38
0.29
0.23
0.2
0.29
0.29
0.29
0.3
Home children
Low Quality Pre-school
Low Quality Pre-school
0.54
Quality Pre-school
Medium
Quality Pre-school
Medium 0.51
High Quality Pre-school
High Quality Pre-school
0.25
0.25
0.27
-0.02
-0.02
0.1
Low
Low
Medium
Medium
Low
Early years HLE
Early years HLE
0
0
High
High
Medium
Early Years HLE
High
Summary of Value-added model predicting
academic progress in English from Years 2-6
Comparator
Experimental Group
English Year 2
Gender: Boys
Ethnicity: U.K. White Heritage
Family Socio Economic Status:
Highest
Mother’s Educational Qualification:
None
Early Years Home Learning Index:
Lowest
Key Stage 1 Home Learning
Environment: Computers:
High:
*Statistically significant at 0.05.
Continuous Variable
Gender: Girls
White European heritage
Black Caribbean heritage
Black African heritage
Any other ethnic minority heritage
Indian heritage
Pakistani heritage
Bangladeshi heritage
Mixed race heritage
Other professional non manual
Skilled non manual
Skilled manual
Semi skilled
Unskilled
Unemployed: not working
Missing
Missing
Vocational
16 academic
18 academic
Degree or equivalent
Higher degree
Other professional
Missing
14-19
20-24
25-32
33-43
Missing
Low
Low - Moderate
Moderate-High
Low
Low - Moderate
Moderate-High
(Only the significant variables are shown.)
Coef
0.68
2.16
0.72
0.63
0.06
1.63
1.20
1.72
4.66
0.47
0.07
-0.56
-2.05
-0.93
-1.56
-2.70
0.90
-0.62
1.94
1.16
1.67
4.46
2.77
3.59
-0.61
0.30
0.29
0.78
2.80
0.38
2.09
1.30
-0.02
0.30
0.35
0.68
se
0.02
0.41
1.20
1.11
1.53
1.30
1.56
1.20
2.00
0.93
0.85
0.95
0.99
1.15
1.75
1.26
2.45
1.68
0.75
0.62
0.93
0.98
1.50
1.75
1.59
0.81
0.83
0.83
1.00
1.37
0.81
0.73
0.68
0.73
0.69
0.02
z
41.73
5.25
0.60
0.57
0.04
1.25
0.77
1.44
2.32
0.50
0.08
-0.59
-2.08
-0.81
-0.89
-2.14
0.37
-0.37
2.58
1.88
1.79
4.57
1.85
2.06
-0.38
0.37
0.35
0.94
2.80
0.28
2.57
1.78
-0.02
0.41
0.51
41.73
Sig
0.00
0.00
0.55
0.57
0.97
0.21
0.44
0.15
0.02
0.61
0.94
0.56
0.04
0.42
0.37
0.03
0.71
0.71
0.01
0.06
0.07
0.00
0.06
0.04
0.70
0.71
0.72
0.35
0.01
0.78
0.01
0.08
0.98
0.68
0.61
0.00
ES
2.12
0.23
0.08
0.07
0.01
0.18
0.13
0.19
0.51
0.05
0.01
-0.06
-0.22
-0.10
-0.17
-0.29
0.10
-0.07
0.21
0.13
0.18
0.48
0.30
0.39
-0.07
0.03
0.03
0.08
0.30
0.04
0.23
0.14
0.00
0.03
0.04
2.12
Sig
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
The net effect of pre-school quality on academic
progress in English at Key Stage 2
Representation of mediated effects upon
literacy and numeracy
Early Years HLE
Pre-school Effectiveness
3+
3-5 years
Self-regulation
at age 5
Literacy
Numeracy
ages 7, 11, 14
ages 7, 11, 14
Quality fosters capacity for learning
how to learn



Pre-school attendance alone (irrespective of quality
or effectiveness) was associated with better
attainment in English and Mathematics during
Primary school, but this did not translate into a
predictor of better progress in either subject.
However, there was evidence of the importance of
pre-school quality for progress: for English and
Maths, children who attended high quality preschools made greater progress between Years 2 and
6 than ‘home’ children.
This suggests that quality pre-school experience not
only provides children with an initial boost to
attainment levels at school entry, but also helps
promote progress (possibly by fostering children’s
capacity to learn and their motivation).
Harms. T., Clifford, R. M., & Cryer, D. (1998). Early Childhood Environment
Rating Scale Revised Edition (ECERS-R). New York: Teachers’ College
Press.
Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B.
(2010). Early Childhood Matters: Evidence from the Effective Pre-school
and Primary Education Project. Oxford: Routledge.
Sylva, K., Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Taggart, B. (2003, Second Edition 2010).
Assessing quality in the early years. Trentham Books.
EPPSE Project
http://eppe.ioe.ac.uk/index.htm
Families, Early Learning and Literacy (FELL) research group
http://www.education.ox.ac.uk/research/fell/
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Kathy Sylva`s presentation