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Universal pre-school education: the case of public funding with private provision

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Blanden, Jo; Del Bono, Emilia; McNally, Sandra & Rabe, Birgitta
Publication Date: 
1 Aug 2016

"This article exploits the staggered introduction of the entitlement to free pre- school for three year olds in England to investigate the effect of the policy on child outcomes at ages 5, 7 and 11 based on a census of children in primary state schools."


This article studies the effect of free pre-school education on child outcomes in primary school. We exploit the staggered implementation of free part-time pre-school for three year olds across Local Education Authorities in England in the early 2000s. The policy led to small improvements in attainment at age 5, with no apparent benefits by age 11. We argue that this is because the expansion of free places largely crowded out privately paid care, with small changes in total participation, and was achieved through an increase in private provision, where quality is lower on average than in the public sector.

Entered Date: 
10 Sep 2018
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