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Effective Pre-school Provision in Northern Ireland (EPPNI)

This longitudinal study assesses the attainment and development of children followed between the ages of 3 and 7 years. Over 700 children were recruited to the study during 1998 and 1999 from 80 pre-school centres. Subsequently 150 children who had not attended a pre-school centre were also recruited to the study. Both qualitative and quantitative methods (including multilevel modelling) are used to explore the effects of pre-school experience on children's cognitive attainment and social/behavioural development at entry to school and any continuing effects on such outcomes up to 7 years of age. In addition to the effects of pre-school experience, the study investigates the contribution to children's development of individual and family characteristics such as gender, family size, parental education and employment. A parallel study is being carried out in England (EPPE). These projects are directed by a team consisting of Professor Edward Melhuish, Birkbeck, Professor Kathy Sylva, University of Oxford, Professor Pam Sammons and Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford, Institute of Education, University of London.

Amongst the issues addressed by the EPPNI project are these three that have important implications for policy and practice:

  • the effects on children of different types of pre-school provision,
  • the 'structural' (e.g. adult-child ratios) and 'process' characteristics (e.g. interaction styles) of more effective pre-school centres, and
  • the interaction between child and family characteristics and the kind of pre-school provision a child experiences.

The research design was chosen to enable investigation of the progress and development of individual children (including the impact of individual, socio-economic and family characteristics), and the effect of individual pre-school centres on children's outcomes from age 3 years through to age 7.

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