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Sound foundations: A review of the research evidence on quality of early childhood education and care for children under three -- Implications for policy and practice

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Mathers, Sandra; Eisenstadt, Naomi; Sylva, Kathy; Soukakou, Elena & Ereky-Stevens, Katharina
Publication Date: 
22 Jan 2014

Excerpts from the report:

In this report, we present an evidence-based review designed to answer the following question:

What does research tell us about the quality of early childhood education and care for children under three, and what are the implications for policy and practice?

We draw on international research into the dimensions of quality in early years education and care that facilitate the learning and development of children from birth to three, collating the findings of research reviews conducted primarily in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand.


Key findings:

1. Our review of the research evidence has identified four key dimensions of good quality pedagogy for all children under three:

  • Stable relationships and interactions with sensitive and responsive adults
  • A focus on play-based activities and routines which allow children to take the lead in their own learning
  • Support for communication and language
  • Opportunities to move and be physically active.

2. In order to deliver high quality pedagogy, practitioners need to be skilled and knowledgeable and to work within environments which support them in their practice. Our review of the research evidence suggests five ‘key conditions' for quality:

  • Knowledgeable and capable practitioners, supported by strong leaders
  • A stable staff team with a low turnover
  • Effective staff deployment (e.g. favourable ratios, staff continuity)
  • Secure yet stimulating physical environments
  • Engaged and involved families.
Entered Date: 
28 Jan 2014
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