Professor Edward Melhuish

I have a first degree in Psychology from the University of Bristol and a PhD from the University of London.

I have worked at the University of Hertfordshire, Institute of Education, London, Bangor University, Cardiff University and most recently Birkbeck, University of London where I have been Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families & Social Issues.


My research interests are in understanding social and communicative development in childhood particularly environmental influences through the use of longitudinal studies. Other interests include:

  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC)
  • Child poverty
  • parenting
  • the linking of child development and social policy

My work has been concerned with using theoretically driven research to address applied issues and produce improvements in development and well-being. Such work regularly involves collaboration with social, biological and medical scientists in studying child development and the influence of experience. I have also collaborated in research projects in 12 countries on behalf of the European Commission.

I have undertaken many research projects funded by research councils, government departments, international organisations (EU, WHO) and charities.  For example, I have been a Principal Investigator on the Effective Pre-school, Primary & Secondary Education (EPPSE) and the Effective Pre-school Provision in Northern Ireland (EPPNI) projects based in England and Northern Ireland, which involved 4,000 children. These studies investigated the effects of family, community, and pre-school experiences (and their interaction) on longer-term child development.  These studies have had considerable influence on government policy, e.g. the universal provision of a pre-school place for all children from 3 years of age; the establishment of 3500 Children’s Centres.

In addition, I have been the Executive Director of the National Evaluation of Sure Start and work has addressed many issues relevant to Sure Start including cognitive, language and behavioural development of young children and the role of family factors, home environment, childcare and pre-school experience upon children’s development. The evaluation examined under what conditions Sure Start programmes affected children, families and communities and involved an investigation of 20,000 children and families and a longitudinal follow-up of 8,000 children in poor communities

Previous work has influenced several UK acts of parliament.  I have served as an expert witness to several House of Commons Select Committees, and am a member of a Child Well-being working group of WHO, and the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group Early Childhood Interventions Group, With over 200 publications. I have contributed to discussions of social policy for children in Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Australia, Korea, Chile, European Commission, OECD and WHO. I have been a scientific advisor to overseas research funding bodies: NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research); Academy of Finland; Nordic Research Councils for Humanities and Social Sciences; Portuguese Research Council (FCT); European Commission; Australian Research Council; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council). I undertake substantial pro bono work for charities involved with child well-being and am a trustee of the WAVE Trust.

Publications – 2008 onwards

In Press

  • Oberklaid, F., Baird, G., Blair, M., Melhuish, E. & Hall, D. (in press) Children’s health and development; Approaches to early identification and treatment. Archives of Diseases in Childhood.
  • Anning, A., Ball, M., Belsky, J. and Melhuish, E. (in press). Exploring Links Between the Processes and Impact of Sure Start Local Programmes: Multi-Agency Team Work as an Exemplar. Children and Society.
  • NESS Research Team (in press). Evaluating a National Intervention Programmed for Disadvantaged Young Children: The Sure Start Local Programmes in England. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 1 [Reprinted in M. Junger, R. Tremblay, W. Koops, B. Prinsen and H. Jonkman (Eds.), Early interventions to prevent conduct disorders: Opportunities and problems. London: Psychology Press.]
  • Belsky, J. Melhuish, E., and Barnes. (in press). Sure Start Local Programmes: Area-Based, Early-Preventative Intervention in England. In R. Alexander, N. Guterman and S. Alexander (Eds.), Prevention of Child Maltreatment. St. Louis, Missouri: GW Medical Publishing.
  • Siraj-Blatchford, I., Sylva, K., Sammons, P., Melhuish, E. and Taggart, B. (in press), ‘Mixed methods in early childhood research’. British Educational Research Journal.


  • Melhuish, E. (2013). Efeitos de longo prazo da educação infantile: Evidências e política . Cadernos de Pesquisa, 43, 124-149.
  • Melhuish, E. (2013). Die frühkindliche Umgebung: langfristige Effekte von frühkindlicher Bildung und Erziehung. In: Kompetenzteam Wissenschaft des Bundesprogramms „Elternchance ist Kinderchance“ des Bundesministeriums für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Hrsg.): Frühe Bildung in der Familie – Perspektiven der Familienbildung, Beltz Juventa: Weinheim und Basel.
  • Basatemur, E., Gardiner, J., Sutcliffe, A., Barnes, J., & Melhuish E. (2013).  Relationship Between Maternal Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index and Child Cognition: a Longitudinal Cohort StudyPediatrics, 131(1), pp. 56-63.  ISSN 0031-4005
  • Busch, V., Van Stel, H.F., De Leeuw, J.R.J, Melhuish, E., Schrijvers, A.J.P. (2013). Multidisciplinary integrated Parent and Child Centres in Amsterdam: A qualitative study . International Journal of Integrated Care 2013; Apr–Jun, URN:NBN:NL:UI:10-1-114418
  • Melhuish E. (2013). Acteurs, usagers et évaluation des dispositifs de prevention précoce: L’example des programmes EPPE et Sure Start au Royaume-Uni. In C. Fourel et G Malochet (Eds.) Les politiques de cohesion sociale: Acteurs et instruments. Rapport No. 55, Paris: Centre d’analyse stratégique. Pp130-136.
  • Currie, C., Dyson, A., Eisenstadt, N., Jensen, B.B., Melhuish, E. (2013). A good start for every child: Final report of the Early Years, Family and Education Task Group for the WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divide. Copenhagen: WHO Europe
  • Melhuish, E. C. (2013). Research on Early Childhood Education in the UK. In M. Stamm & D. Edelmann (Hrsg.), Handbuch Frühkindliche Bildungsforschung (pp.213-223). Wiesbaden: VS/Springer.




  • Belsky, J. and Melhuish, E. (2009). Early Intervention for Young Children and their Families in England: The Sure Start Journey Over the Last Decade. In U. Von der Leyen and V. Spidla (eds) Voneinander lernen – miteinander handeln: Aufgaben und Perspektiven der Europdischen Allianz f|r Familien (Shared experience, concerted action: Ideas and perspectives in the European Alliance for Families). Baden-Baden Germany, Nomos-Verlag.
  • Hall, J., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Taggart, B. (2009), ‘The role of pre-school quality in promoting resilience in the cognitive development of young children’ . Oxford Review of Education, 35, 331–352.
  • Belsky, J., A. Leyland, J. Barnes and Edward Melhuish Sure Start in England, The Lancet, 373, Issue 9661, February 2009. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60132-X.


Edward Melhuish webprofile


  • Department staff


  • Academic Research Leader

Research groups

  • Families, Effective Learning and Literacy (FELL)
  • Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education