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Study of early education and development

Young girl painted hands
Published: December 2017

SEED is a major new longitudinal study into the uptake and impact of childcare on children.

It is following around 6,000 two-year-olds from across England through to the end of KS1 between 2013 and 2020.


A new report 'Study of Quality of Early Years Provision in England' published in December 2017.

The full report is available on the Department for Education's website. You can download a short summary of the findings here.

Key findings 

Good quality provision across settings

  • Although there are small variations in quality according to setting type, overall quality of provision is good across all different types of settings for two- to four-year-olds. 
  • There are some factors which are consistently associated with higher quality early years provision:

- Staff training and development.

- Lower staff turnover.

- A narrower age range of children accepted at the setting.

- A higher staff to child ratio (i.e. having few children per staff member) across the whole setting.

- Higher average staff qualification.

Quality of early years provision has improved over time

  • Quality of provision has improved in England over the past 16 years.
  • Children in deprived areas are equally likely to receive good quality provision as children in less deprived areas.

Find out more  

Previous reports are available from the Department for Education's website

You can watch two short videos about the study's key findings and methods below. 

You can find out more about taking part in this research at SEED's dedicated participants' website

We're working with Frontier Economics, the University of Oxford and Action for Children, on behalf of the Department for Education.


We are triangulating a lot of different types of data about the same families. The study involves the following data collection strands:  

  • A longitudinal survey of around 6,000 families with preschool children from the age of two to the end of Key Stage 1 (age seven), and surveys of childcare staff and school teachers working with these children.
  • Around 1,000 visits to early years settings and to around 100 childminders to study the quality, characteristics and process of provision.
  • A value for money study involving the collection of cost data from 166 early years settings.
  • Case studies of good practice in centre-based early years settings.
  • A qualitative study with childminders.
  • A qualitative study about experiences of Early Years Pupil Premium.
  • A qualitative study of early education provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities involving interviews with families and staff at early years settings. 

SEED survey data is now available for secondary analysis

  • Data from the first two waves of the SEED survey (when children were two and three years old) is available for secondary analysis from the UK Data Service (click here for wave 1 data, and here for wave 2 data)