early years and parenting research

Here are links to some of the research studies from across the early years and parenting sectors that influence the development and delivery of Peep programmes. If you are a Peep-trained practitioner you can log-in to find more research links relating to specific Peep Learning Together and Antenatal topics.

stop start - children's centres in england in 2018

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We are proud that one of our Trustees, Teresa Smith, co-authored this research. Stop Start, survival, decline or closure - Children's Centres in England in 2018. Undertaken by the University of Oxford, it paints a picture of what has happened with Children's Centres in England. It shows decline, both in numbers and services, but also adaptation and a struggle to survive. Recommendations include:

  • The central purpose of Children's Centres to promote positive child and family development primarily for 0-5 age group should be stressed and;
  • Children's Centres should reconnect with their original purpose. They warn against open access being lost, or minimised, in favour of referral only services, highlighting that a good mix of children is important for children's social mobility and social development.

'Children's Centres: their impact on children and families' (ECCE)

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> Children's Centres: their impact on children and families (Dec 2015) - part of the DfE-funded Evaluation of Children's Centres in England (ECCE) study.

The study concluded that children's centres benefitted families in a range of ways, and that there were three particular characteristics of children's centres that promoted better child, mother and family outcomes:

  1. Offering more named programmes for families predicted better outcomes for certain child behaviours and family outcomes, including the early home learning environment. 
  2. Centres that were maintaining or increasing services (rather than cutting or re-structuring) had better outcomes for mothers and family.
  3. Multi-agency working seemed to be beneficial for some child and family outcomes.

'The best start at home' (EIF)

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'The best start at home' review (June 2015) - Dartington Social Research Unit, University of Warwick, University of Coventry for Early Intervention Foundation

What works to improve parent-child interactions from conception to age five? A rapid review of interventions.

Includes reference to Peep Learning Together Programme group delivery. 

'Effective pre-school, primary and secondary education' (EPPSE)

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The Effective Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) study (University of Oxford and the Institute of Education) found that the main activities that parents/carers do with their young children which make a positive difference are: singing songs and nursery rhymes, reading with their child, visiting the library, playing with letters and numbers, painting and drawing, taking children out and about, and providing opportunities for them to play with their friends at home. The project (which followed 3000 children) found that, from age three until sixteen, the quality of the Home Learning Environment is more important for intellectual and social development than parental occupation, education or income. What adults do with their children (both at home and by sending them to pre-school) is more important than their social class, educational background or where they live.
You can find more detail and research references on our Home Learning Environment page.

The impact of parental involvement and aspirations on their children's attainment

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> 'Dispelling the myth of parents' 'poverty of aspiration' for their children'  Analysis of the 'Growing up in Scotland' birth cohort study of 3,500 children, indicates that all parents, including those living in poverty, want the best for their children, but that lower income parents are less likely to know how to support their child's education. It also found that: "Teachers too cite low aspirations on the part of parents for children’s poorer educational attainment. This has an effect on how teachers and school staff engage with children and parents living in poverty."  (2017, Treanor, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships)

> 'Educational Aspirations: how English schools can work with parents to keep them on track' (Menzies, 2013, Joseph Rowntree Foundation) - One of the report's key points: "Disadvantaged parents and their social networks can lack the experience and knowledge to help their children. Engaging parents to help them understand what their children’s aspirations involve and what will help achieve them is an effective way of raising attainment. Engagement is most effective when:

  • It is collaborative, builds strong relationships and focuses on learning.
  • Schools meet parents on their own terms by tapping into their needs and interests, creating environments that feel comfortable to them and involving other members of their community." 

> 'The impact of attitudes and aspirations on educational attainment and participation' (Gorard et al, 2012, JRF) - "Parental involvement in their child's learning is the only area showing robust evidence as a cause of attainment"