Insight into Educational Inequality in the Early Years

Click here to read the report

We've spent the last two years researching educational inequality in the early years - here's what we've learnt...


25 February 2021

Let’s create a better future for children in the UK 

Preparing children for the world starts in their very first 5 years. This is when their mind, just like a sponge, absorbs everything in sight – faster than at any other stage in their life. It’s the basis for how they’ll learn, live, and behave. 

We previously told you about our plan to collaborate on the monitoring and evaluation of three early years projects we’re supporting through our ‘When I Grow Up‘ programme. A few things have changed since we began but this early stage and the home learning environment remain crucial to a child’s development.

The closure of schools and nurseries due to Covid-19 restrictions over the last 12 months has worsened educational inequality, and in particular the digital divide between disadvantaged children and their peers. Which is why…

The projects we’re supporting right now – Doorstep Library, Tales Toolkit and Parental Engagement Network – are so important.

They look at different ways to help children at home by:

  • Encouraging a love of reading for pleasure
  • Helping parents get more involved in their children’s communication and language development, using storytelling
  • Finding simple, inclusive, and positive ways of learning together

All our findings are in one place

The Institute for Employment Studies, Sutton Trust and the University of Oxford have been working with us to keep track of the projects’ achievements. Due to the pandemic our plans had to change, however we made sure to capture everything that we have learnt here – and offered some handy recommendations too:

  • Establishing partnerships with Local Authorities, teaching alliances or academy chains to enable the projects to extend their work to a larger number of families
  • Asking the government to help those without internet access, treating it as a basic need in these times
  • Working with local businesses to offer disadvantaged families simple resources like paper, pens, and pencils to support children’s learning at home

It is time to take action

While last year didn’t make things any easier, it did offer insights on new ways of learning during disruptive periods, and what this means for families, children, and teachers alike. Please take a look at the full report, which provides clear steps for preventing the already concerning digital divide from affecting disadvantaged children’s learning further.

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