Briefing paper

Study of Early Education and Development (SEED)

Study of Early Education & Development

SEED (Study of Early Education & Development) is a major longitudinal study into the impact of childcare on children throughout their childhood.
Young girl holding up her painted hands

SEED (Study of Early Education & Development) is a major longitudinal study into the impact of childcare on children throughout their childhood.

The study is following nearly 6,000 children from across England from age two. It started in 2013, and it is funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

DfE have extended the SEED study to 2029. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) will deliver the extension in collaboration with University College London, Durham University, University of Bristol and SQW.

The latest wave is taking place in 2023. We are excited to return to face-to-face fieldwork with families. This wave also includes a short survey with the class teachers of SEED children.

The original SEED study (2013-2021) was carried out by NatCen in collaboration  with Frontier Economics, the University of Oxford and Action for Children.

What does the study involve?

The study involves a number of strands of work:

  • A longitudinal survey of almost 6,000 children aiming to find out how characteristics of the early environment, including early childhood education and care, relate to child development over time. This strand involves interviews with families; surveys with childcare staff and class teachers; and linking of survey results to educational attainment data in the National Pupil Database

  • COVID-19 studies in 2020 and 2021: In the autumn 2020, NatCen carried out a special wave of the SEED survey of families to capture experiences during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic and to investigate the effects of the pandemic and school closures on children and their families. Over 1,800 families took part in this study, completing the questionnaire either online or on the phone. Results are being analysed, and findings will be published later in 2021. In May and June 2021, another special wave of the SEED study took place. It included questions about the period of school closures in winter 2021 as well as more general questions about how the children and families were getting on. It was also carried out as a web-telephone survey
  • A study of quality in 1,000 group based early years settings and around 100 childminders being used by children in the study. This aims to understand what is important for high quality childcare provision and how the quality of provision relates to child outcomes
  • A study of the value for money of early childhood education and care
  • Qualitative studies
  • Interviews to investigate the views of childminders
  • Case studies of good practice in group based providers
  • A study of providers’ experiences of the Early Years Pupil Premium
  • A 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 available for secondary analysis

  • Data from the first three waves of the SEED survey (when children were two, three and four years old) is available for secondary analysis from the UK Data Service (click here for wave 1 data, here for wave 2 data, and here for wave 3 data)

Find out more  

You can read findings, publications and previous reports or find out more about taking part in this research at the SEED website