The research, which is supported by the Nuffield Foundation, has four strands.
The EPI will publish a series of reports over the two years, setting out our findings and generating discussion about how these findings can be used to make better policy.
The research will include an assessment of the current state of the workforce, the incentives and barriers to recruiting and retaining qualified staff, the strategies available to improve the provision of better-qualified staff, the role of CPD and the link between staff qualification and child outcomes.
Announcing the research in Nursery World, Natalie Perera, executive director and head of research at the EPI, said, ‘The existing evidence is clear that the quality of early years provision matters and that it can have a positive and lasting impact on children’s outcomes. That is particularly the case for disadvantaged children, where we know that 40 per cent of the disadvantage gap at age 16 is already apparent by age five.
‘What we don’t really know is which features of quality are most effective, especially in closing the disadvantage gap. We know that having a graduate in a setting can make a difference, but the evidence is limited as to what type of graduate is most important and what role they should play within the setting.’
The research will seek to answer this question and others such as how the workforce should best be structured, whether this differs depending on whether it is a maintained or PVI setting, and the role of continuing professional development (CPD).
The four research strands are:
- An in-depth study of the workforce, similar to EPI’s March report, but using different data (the Labour Force Survey), which allow us to look into entry and exit patterns (e.g. for those who leave the sector, to see if they are retiring or leaving to work in other sectors). This research will run until the end of 2018.
- We will look at the impact of certain policies (e.g. the GCSE requirement and its repeal, the 30 hour entitlement) on the supply and demand of workforce at different levels of qualifications. This will be completed by April/May 2019.
- A qualitative strand partnering with NatCen looking into recruitment and retention issues both from the point of view of setting's manager as well as from the point of view of frontline workers. This will be completed by the end of 2019.
- Research into the impact of the workforce on children's outcomes, aiming to go beyond the graduate vs non-graduate impact and look at workforce at different levels of qualifications (particularly Level 3). It will also look more in-depth at variations within disadvantaged children and will do more geographical analysis. To be completed by August 2019.
- Read more about the research in Natalie Perera’s column here