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Helping our Youngest to Learn and Grow

Policies for Early Learning

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This report discusses policies and practices that shape quality and equity in early childhood education and care. It examines how the work environment, including the educational background of staff, and the policies that shape teaching approaches affect the quality of the education provided to our youngest learners. The book concludes with an overview of current thinking about how young children use, and are affected by, information and communication technologies (ICT). Linking the way children interact with ICT inside of school to the way they already use it outside of school could be the key to unlocking technology’s potential for learning.



Children learn at a faster rate during the first five years of their life than at any other time, developing cognitive, and social and emotional skills that are fundamental to their future achievements and well-being throughout childhood and as adults. Despite compelling evidence that high quality early childhood education and care programmes can make a crucial difference to children’s progress through school and success in adult life, large differences in access to and the quality of these programmes persist within and across countries. 

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Executive Summary

Research has shown that attendance at early childhood education and care programmes can have a significant impact on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development, and on their performance in school – and in life – later on. There is evidence from both randomised controlled trials and observational studies that early childhood education and care has the potential to improve the life chances of children from disadvantaged families; yet results from PISA show that advantaged children are more likely to attend, and to attend for longer periods of time. Failing to tackle this situation could mean that early childhood education and care continue to exacerbate rather than mitigate inequities in education and in society.

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