Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

A question of quality: do children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive lower quality early childhood education and care?

Gambaro, Ludovica, Stewart, Kitty ORCID: 0000-0001-7744-8741 and Waldfogel, Jane (2015) A question of quality: do children from disadvantaged backgrounds receive lower quality early childhood education and care? British Educational Research Journal, 41 (4). pp. 553-574. ISSN 0141-1926

PDF - Accepted Version
Download (679kB) | Preview

Identification Number: 10.1002/berj.3161


This paper examines how the quality of early childhood education and care accessed by three and four year olds in England varies by children’s background. Focusing on the free entitlement to early education, the analysis combines information from three administrative datasets for 2010-11, the Early Years Census, the Schools Census and the Ofsted inspections dataset, to obtain two main indicators of quality: staff qualification levels and Ofsted ratings. These data are combined with child-level indicators of area deprivation (IDACI scores) as a proxy measure of children’s background. The paper finds that children from more disadvantaged areas have access to better qualified staff, largely because they are more likely than children from richer areas to attend maintained nursery classes staffed by teachers, and less likely to attend services in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sectors. However, within both maintained and PVI sectors, services catering for more disadvantaged children receive poorer quality ratings from Ofsted, with a higher concentration of children from disadvantaged areas itself appearing to reduce the likelihood of top Ofsted grades. This may be in part because Ofsted ratings reflect levels of child development, and therefore reward settings where children enter at a more advanced starting point, but it may also be that it is genuinely harder to deliver an outstanding service to a more disadvantaged intake. The result point to the need for funding to support better qualified staff in PVI settings in disadvantaged areas.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 British Educational Research Association
Divisions: Social Policy
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education
I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I3 - Welfare and Poverty > I38 - Government Policy; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J13 - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 09:57
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 02:54
Funders: Nuffield Foundation

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics