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New research questions value of free entitlement for children’s development

Free early education entitlement does not deliver long-term benefits for children’s development, according to new findings.

Research carried out by the University of Surrey, the University of Essex and the Institute of Education suggests that, while free part-time nursery places for three-year-olds enabled some children to do better in assessments at the end of reception, the overall educational benefits ‘are small and do not last’.

The report concludes that the free entitlement policy delivers limited benefits primarily because only a small number of additional children entered early education as a direct result of it.

The research focused on children in early education from 2002 to 2007 in England, relating the local availability of free places for three-year-olds to children’s attainment at ages five, seven and eleven.