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The Social Benefits of Early Childhood Education and Care. Analytical Review prepared on behalf of NESSE by Helen Penn Cass School of Education, University of East London, UK. Social benefits?.

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the social benefits of early childhood education and care

The Social Benefits of Early Childhood Education and Care

Analytical Review prepared on behalf of NESSE by Helen Penn Cass School of Education, University of East London, UK

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Early childhood education and care: lessons from research for policy makers.EU Directorate for Education and Culture/NESSE
early childhood education and care ecec a complex issue
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) - A complex issue
  • Across Europe, overlapping and even contradictory rationales for ECEC, drawing on different sources of evidence, and arriving at different policy conclusions
  • Problems about reconciling data on early education, primary school starting age and childcare across countries
  • ECEC inextricably linked with other measures to reconcile family and work life, and with wider social conditions
  • UNCRC requires rethinking of nature of ECEC services and desirable outcomes
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Early education is a good investment in that it mitigates the expense of remedial action in primary and secondary schooling and results in adult productivity and in the relative absence of anti-social behaviour
  • Research perspective – economics especially human capital theory; draws on long term aggregated data sets and cost benefit studies of early childhood interventions
policy and research debates
Policy and research debates
  • Policy implication -provide targeted services for the most vulnerable children BUT
  • questions about the reliability and parochiality of the evidence. Longitudinal cost benefit studies a dated methodology; cohort studies now offering more relevant data eg millennium cohort study, EU-SILC
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence7
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Early education and care is a good investment only if it is of high quality. Poor quality services may do more harm than good for the most vulnerable children
  • Research perspective – child development studies of outcomes of different types of ECEC
policy and research debates8
Policy and Research debates
  • research that suggests good child-staff ratios, staff training, good programmes and leadership are essential aspects of quality BUT
  • staff deployment, staff training, curricula and management vary considerably across Europe and in a European context very different approaches are also associated with high quality provision – eg Reggio Emilia, emphasis on nature and physicality in Nordic curricula
  • Auspices matter -quality more problematic in for-profit settings
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence9
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Early education benefits all young children and socializes them for starting school, especially children from poor or migrant families
  • Research evidence – child development studies of learning, language development and socialization, education outcomes
policy and research debates10
Policy and research debates
  • Universal or targeted services?
  • targeting gives rise to boundary maintenance problems eg children in need.
  • a service for the poor is a poor service –stigmatization, less aspirational, poor staff in poor circumstances BUT
  • universal services must be sensitive to special needs and circumstances eg position of muslim children in French system, immigrant children in Netherlands etc
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence11
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Education and life-long learning essential to a competitive knowledge economy; education promotes social mobility
  • Research evidence – education research and comparative education data from OECD and other transnational sources; demographic data
policy and research debates12
Policy and research debates
  • Social class a confounding factor. In unequal societies social mobility problematic.
  • OECD figures suggests that education outcomes in some countries have a long tail – good at the top, poor at the bottom
  • How does childcare fit into the education system?
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence13
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Women are essential contributors to a dynamic economy
  • Research evidence – economics, cost benefit studies of labour market participation, gender studies
policy and research debates14
Policy and research debates
  • Remove disincentives to women’s participation by the provision of full-time childcare (Barcelona targets) BUT
  • Not a direct relationship between women’s

workforce participation and availability of childcare – costs and regulation of childcare and tax and benefit levels affect participation

  • What is the relationship between childcare and schooling?
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence15
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Working mothers contribute to tax revenues and lessen the need for social security payments; they make an important contribution to family income
  • Research evidence – welfare economics, social policy
policy and research debates16
Policy and research debates
  • Emphasis on workplace participation of single parents and other parents who would otherwise be dependent on state benefits
  • Maternity, paternity and parental leave and work support schemes
  • Low income employment - does work pay?
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence17
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Mothers need to be involved with their children; parents are a child’s first educators
  • Research evidence – child development research which stresses the importance of family environment and mother-child attachments
policy and research debates18
Policy and research debates
  • Home visiting schemes, parenting classes, mothers as volunteers – low-income mothers, vulnerable mothers
  • Parental choice – which should take precedent parental choice or children’s needs for continuity and security?
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence19
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Low birth rates below level of replacement a societal problem
  • Research evidence – demography, population studies
policy and research debates20
Policy and research debates
  • Pro-natalist policies, child benefit, maternity and paternity leave, policies to make motherhood easier and more valued BUT
  • No direct relationship between pro-natalist policies and birth rate.
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence21
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • Child poverty impacts severely on children’s educational performance, their sense of self-worth and their subsequent societal contribution
  • Research evidence – social welfare research on definitions of and consequences of poverty
policy and research debates22
Policy and research debates
  • Inequality a key indicator for child well-being
  • Redistribution of taxes and benefits and other social policies to mitigate child poverty
  • labour market legislation such as minimum wage
overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence23
Overlapping rationales and contradictory evidence
  • UNCRC: Children, including young children, are rights bearers and all children have a right to protection, provision and participation
policy and research debates24
Policy and research debates
  • Broad approach, including reduction of child poverty, health and welfare support; defining provision from children’s perspectives and perceived needs
next steps
Next Steps?

EU directorate of education and culture: basic competencies and skills professional/transferable qualifications for working with young children

EU directorate of employment, social affairs, and equal opportunities:

Auspices, regulation and quality in privatized early education and care markets