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The Australian state of Victoria has announced universal state-funded Early Education for all 3-year-olds based upon results from research led by department professors, Ted Melhuish, Iram Siraj, Kathy Sylva and Pam Sammons. This social, economic and educational reform of the provision of early childhood education will be the largest in the state’s history and a first for the country.

The DfE-funded research project on Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) examined the educational attainment and social development of children from pre-school to the end of key stage 4 over a seven year period. It showed that pre-school education from 3-5 years of age could improve educational and social development at the start of school. These benefits were found to be long-lasting and also led to improved educational attainment and better social development through to the end of school.

Under the re-elected Andrews Labour Government, every Victorian-born child will now start kindergarten a year earlier, giving them the skills and experiences they need to be ready for school. The state will invest almost $5 billion over the next decade, with the reforms being rolled out to six local government areas by 2020 and to a further 15 local government areas during 2021. This will ultimately affect the lives of millions of children.

Ted Melhuish, Professor of Human Development in the department and one of the study’s Principal Investigators, said: “Studies in many countries have now supported the ground-breaking EPPSE research in finding that pre-school education, particularly if high quality, has long-lasting benefits for all children. The benefits are such that all countries should regard good quality pre-school education as an essential part of the infrastructure for economic development.”

Ted Melhuish has been consulted by ministers and government officials in Australian states and federal government over the last six years and most recently in Victoria. In addition Iram Siraj was an investigator on supporting research in Australia. The EPPSE research has influenced policy in multiple countries including Canadian provinces, Sri Lanka, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Norway and Germany and is still on-going.

Discover more about the research programme and its findings here.


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

Comment piece by Ewart Keep (Director of the Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance).

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Following advice from an international advisory group involving the department’s Director of Research, Professor Alis Oancea, The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) has announced that it will no longer audit its new five-year masters programmes for thematic supervision of primary and lower secondary school teacher education in 2019/20.

This decision, resulting directly from a recommendation made by the group, which advised that institutions are already experiencing enough pressure owing to the introduction of the new five-year programmes, will instead see some form of programme evaluation after 2020.

“The expert group’s input is important,” says NOKUT Director General Terje Mørland. “They have met many from the teacher education communities and have argued convincingly that supervision is not the right thing to do now…All in all, we choose to wait a little and evaluate which measures from NOKUT can best raise quality in teacher education in the coming years.”

The international group will continue its work into teacher education reform and the introduction of Norway’s five-year master’s programmes during 2019, with a final report expected at the end of the year. Members include Professor Marilyn Cochran-Smith (Boston College, USA), Professor Mikael Alexandersson (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), Dr Karen Hammerness (American Museum of Natural History, USA), Professor Viv Ellis (King’s College London, United Kingdom), Associate Professor Lexie Grudnoff (University of Auckland, New Zealand), Professor Alis Oancea (University of Oxford, United Kingdom) and Professor Auli Toom, (University of Helsinki, Finland).

Find out more.

Professor Ewart Keep (Director of the centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance) contributes to the Edge Foundation’s debate on the philosophy of vocational education in England.

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Professor Ted Melhuish (Professor of Human Development) gave oral evidence to the Education Committee on Tuesday 12 June to support a new inquiry examining the impact that early years education and social policy have on determining children’s life chances.

The session, which was the first in the inquiry, focused on early years education provision, support for parents and families and the role of children’s centres in promoting social justice. Fellow panel witnesses included Sir Kevan Collins (Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation), Laura McFarlane (Director of the LEAP Programme, National Children’s Bureau) and Steven McIntosh (Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children).

Professor Melhuish is the director of the Study of Early Education and Development and an advisor to OECD, WHO, and the European Commission on early years education policy. His work uses theoretically driven research to address applied issues and policy questions to produce improvements in development and well-being. Current research projects involve evaluating interventions such as early childhood education and care (ECEC), parental support, early intervention strategies.

The inquiry which launched on 4 May 2018 will focus on early years educational settings but will also look at Government policy and make recommendations on how to improve social justice, while considering the role of services other than education, including health services and those provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Watch the meeting in full here: Parliament TV
Discover more about the Life Chances Inquiry

FE Week:

Comment piece by Professor Ewart Keep (Director of the Centre for Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance).

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