Relationships between Socio Economic Status and the Development of Children in the EYFS: A Secondary Analysis of Data from the Growing up in Scotland and Effective Provision of Pre-School Education Reports.

Researcher(s): Tim Clark

Institution: Southville Community Centre Nursery/University of Reading

Status: Ongoing

The recent introduction of ‘free early education’ entitlement for the most ‘disadvantaged 40% of two year olds’ in the UK (Dfe 2013) represents the latest government policy focussed on ‘closing the gap’ in attainment between children from the most and least wealthy backgrounds. In the context of this, this paper utilises a range of sociological theories to analyse potential understandings of the apparent connections between socio-economic status (SES) and children’s early development, as highlighted by secondary research data from the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project (Sylva et al 2004) and the ‘Growing up Scotland’ Report (Anderson et al 2007). The highly positivist methodologies these adopt, plus the unavoidable cultural and social positioning of quantifiable development tests within them is explored. Various theoretical interpretations of the results are explored and an argument made against the adoption of highly deterministic theoretical positions which dismiss the potential for human agency to overcome the potentially negative impacts of social structures. It is then asserted that the introduction of the two year old entitlement offers a renewed opportunity to focus on supporting families, with consideration best placed on ‘what parents do’, not ‘who parents are’ (Kellaghan et al 1993).