A recent report to the House of Lords delivered sobering news. In the years 2002 to 2007, the £7bn plus spent on providing 12.5 (now 15) hours of free nursery a week for three year olds had no long-lasting benefits on educational outcomes.
This is a report for which I and colleagues at the University of Essex and Institute of Education have spent the last two years analysing data. Much of my previous work has been on social mobility; understanding the extent to which poor children can escape from a disadvantaged start in life. But the outcome of the report is not one I relish delivering. I had high hopes we would find that this policy did in fact positively impact those who needed it most. But the results we found were not so convenient.