Research and analysis

Free early education for disadvantaged 2-year-olds: an implementation study for local authorities and providers

Study of a programme to provide free early education to disadvantaged 2-year-olds in England.



Free early education for disadvantaged 2-year-olds was first piloted in 2006. The offer aims to improve disadvantaged children’s social and cognitive outcomes so that by the age of 5 they are as ready as their more advantaged peers to start and fully benefit from school.

The programme aims to provide good quality early education combined with support for parents, for example, to improve their confidence in supporting their children’s learning and to deal with other challenges in their lives, such as health problems and family difficulties.

The report presents the findings of a study of the ‘2-year-olds’ offer’, a programme that provides free early education to disadvantaged two year olds in England. A case study approach was used to explore in depth the research questions from the perspective of local authorities, stakeholders and childcare providers. Eight authorities with programmes of different sizes that had joined at different times were included in the study.

Published 30 June 2011