copy the linklink copied!Foreword

It is not always easy for policy makers to make decisions in education that are focused on the future, on what our children need from education. It is easier to rely on what has worked in the past, at least for some children, than to continuously question and try to understand how children are really faring.

England has often been an international leader in education, making decisions based on evidence rather than ideology or convenience. As a result, students in England do relatively well in education at an international level. Nonetheless, England has continued to seek to improve student outcomes through a range of strategies. One such strategy has been an increasing focus on children’s early years, influenced by evidence on how best to support children’s later learning trajectories and their well-being. This has included measures on the quality of early learning and care services and measures to increase participation by disadvantaged children in such services.

England was one of three OECD countries that have participated in the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study. The study provides policy makers, education leaders, parents and the wider community with insights on how well five-year-old children in England are faring. The study moves beyond speculation and beliefs, and enables children to show us how they are doing. The findings are enriched by comparisons with children in Estonia and children in the United States.

The study investigated how well five-year-old children were developing across the range of skills they need to be well-positioned to succeed in education and grow up into happy, healthy and responsible citizens. These skills include both early cognitive development and social-emotional development. Children without this balance of skills will struggle to do well in school and in other areas of their lives.

The study highlights early differences between groups of children, such as between boys and girls and between children from advantaged and disadvantaged families. This helps us to see how we can better support children and their families, both in the earliest years and in the first years of schooling. Education systems that orient their priorities from an institutional lens to children’s actual needs will have greater success overall and will be better able to achieve improved equity.

Children love to learn, and supportive, caring environments help them to do so. Our job is to ensure we are providing such environments.


Andreas Schleicher

Director for the Directorate for Education and Skills

Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary General

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