Early years education and childcare

Early years education and childcare has become an increasingly prominent area of social policy, largely because of its perceived potential to improve developmental and educational outcomes, tackle disadvantage, and increase maternal employment. 

As a result it has become an important area of focus for the Foundation, and between 2009 and 2014 we committed over £2 million in funding for research and innovation projects in early years education and childcare. These projects were funded by our Education and Children and Families programmes and are listed in the Our work in this area section of this page.

Lessons from evidence

The evidence from these projects, and from elsewhere, informed the development of a new, dedicated funding programme which we launched in March 2015, alongside a report: Early years education and childcare: lessons from evidence and future priorities. In the report we identify the key insights that we believe are essential for informed consideration of any changes to early years provision. We also highlight where there are connections and tensions in the evidence, as well as gaps and uncertainties. 

Funding priorities

Our Early Years Education and Childcare programme aims to address some of the gaps in the evidence base by funding research and innovation projects across five themes: 

  • Educational attainment and child development outcomes.
  • Tackling social disadvantage.
  • Parental and family context.
  • Wider societal impacts.
  • Public policy mechanisms for early years.

Full criteria and information about the application process is available in the apply for funding section.