Research and analysis

The impact of Sure Start local programmes on 7-year-olds and their families

This evaluation followed up over 5,000 7-year-olds and their families initially studied when the children were 9 months, 3 years and 5.


The ultimate goal of SSLPs was to enhance the life chances for young children growing up in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Children in this type of neighbourhood are at risk of doing poorly at school, having trouble with peers and agents of authority (i.e. parents, teachers), and ultimately experiencing compromised life chances (e.g. early school leaving, unemployment, limited longevity).

SSLPs were strategically situated in areas of high deprivation and they represented an innovative intervention unlike almost any other aiming to enhance the life prospects of young children in disadvantaged families and communities. One distinguishing characteristic was that the programme was area based, with all children under five years of age and their families living in a prescribed area serving as the “targets” of intervention.

The 7-year-old study followed up a randomly selected subset of the children and families previously studied at younger ages.