7th February 2019

EPI response to Select Committee report on disadvantage in the early years

Today the Commons Education Select Committee has published a new report, ‘Tackling disadvantage in the early years’, which follows its Life Chances inquiry.

The report was informed by EPI oral and written evidence, and can be read in full here.

Responding to the Committee’s report, Sara Bonetti, Associate Director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute (EPI) said: 

“There is a strong body of evidence showing that high quality early years education can play a central role in a child’s outcomes in life. Intervening as early as possible is crucial – as noted by the Committee, our research shows that the development gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is already evident at the age of 5, and is equivalent to 4.3 months of learning.

“We welcome many of the conclusions in today’s report. While the government has recognised the importance of early education in tackling disadvantage, certain policies appear to be impinging on efforts to improve social mobility. This includes the 30 hours childcare entitlement for working parents, which we find works against disadvantaged families, and may be impacting on the quality of provision by creating a strain on childcare providers.

“If it wishes to make further progress on social mobility, the government should consider redesigning this policy, to ensure that children are not deprived of access to vital early years education”.


1. Research cited by the Committee on the attainment gap can be found in our report, ‘Closing the Gap? Trends in Educational Attainment and Disadvantage’ (August 2017): https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/closing-gap-trends-educational-attainment-disadvantage/

2. Our most recent research on the disadvantage gap in England, our 2018 Annual Report, was published after the Committee’s call for evidence (in July 2018), and can be found here: https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/annual-report-2018/

3. Our latest work on early years education can be found here: https://epi.org.uk/research-area/early-years-development/