The latest analysis of data from the EPPSE (Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education) project aimed to find out whether pre-school and early home learning continued to predict how well students did at A-level.
It found that both these factors increase the likelihood of children going on to study AS and A-level exams. EPPSE students who attended any pre-school were more likely to take AS-level exams than those who had not.
Moreover, if their pre-school was ‘high quality’ they were twice as likely as those who had not gone to pre-school to take AS-levels.
However, for most students the pre-school effect had disappeared by the time they took A-levels.
Researchers also found, in separate analyses, that disadvantaged children who were classed as ‘high achievers’ in Key Stage 2 assessments at the end of primary school got better results if they had attended a pre-school.
‘Attending a pre-school led to a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of attaining four or more AS-levels, doubling the chance of bright but disadvantaged students going on to achieve this result,’ the report said.
There is also evidence that the early years home learning environment (HLE) boosts attainment in terms of total A-level points score.
The early years HLE measure is based on the frequency of specific activities parents do with their child, such as teaching them the alphabet, playing with letters and numbers, library visits, reading with them, and teaching them songs. and nursery rhymes.
The latest report is a follow-up to research published last year that found that pre-school and HLE had an impact on GCSE attainment.
Principal investigator from the University of Oxford’s Department of Education Professor Pamela Sammons said, ‘Our findings reveal that pre-school boosts a child’s chances of doing well at school and going onto to take advanced level examinations. This is important because AS and A-levels are a prerequisite for most university and college courses.
‘Our research also shows that a child’s educational experiences at home when they are under five really matter to their later academic success. Unfortunately, not all children get the same support from their parents and for these pupils, pre-school is especially important.’
Kathy Sylva, Professor of Educational Psychology at Oxford University who also worked on the research, said, ‘We think that high quality early education makes the child a more effective learner – not just better at letters and numbers. High quality education turns the child on to learning.’