Children taught well in reception ‘likely to earn more than peers’ in future

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It has long been accepted that children’s early experiences can have the biggest impact on their later lives, and the first year of school gives teachers a chance to positively impact children’s long-term academic outcomes.

Research using CEM’s baseline assessments has previously shown that children who are taught well in their Reception class experience a boost in academic attainment.

This boost gives long-term benefits and students go on to achieve better GCSE results in English and Maths, making the case for schools putting their best teachers in Reception classes.

Now, research published today from Durham University and the Department for Education has found that children in the most effective Reception classes can expect to earn more than their peers in later life.

How much influence does a teacher have?

The report, Economic benefits of effective reception classes, links estimates from two studies to predict changes in later earnings, associated with progress during Reception.

By assessing children at the beginning and end of the Reception year, the team was able to identify classes as ‘effective’, which is where children made significantly more progress than average.

The analysis looked at pupils’ progress and shows that:

  • Future earnings are influenced by the quality of teaching when children are as young as four years old.
  • Pupils in the ‘most effective’ reception classes can expect to earn between £2,000 and £7,500 more on average.
  • The top 2.5 per cent performing reception classes of 27 pupils could add between £50,000 and £200,000 in value to the UK economy.

Implications for teaching and policy

Professor Peter Tymms, from Durham University’s School of Education, said: “We have previously shown that exceptional teaching in Reception can have a long-term impact … Many will be surprised to see this, but it shows the importance of great teachers working with young children.”

In addition to the potential boost in earnings, the social and economic returns from investments in high-quality Reception classes may also be much larger than the study’s estimates, especially for disadvantaged pupils.

Kate Bailey, Managing Director of Cambridge CEM, said: “This report has implications for school leaders in ensuring that good quality teaching is in place in the early years, and that early years practitioners are supported through well-targeted, effective and meaningful CPD.

“At Cambridge CEM we are passionate about supporting schools to improve teaching and learning through the use of evidence. We believe that one of the most powerful ways to improve pupil outcomes is to give teachers robust, detailed and formative information on individual pupil developmental levels in Reception.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Early literacy and numeracy can improve life chances, and findings from this analysis report shows the importance of investing in maths and English in primary schools.

“Our approach as a Government over the last decade has been on raising standards, particularly in primary schools, which is why we have introduced the phonics screening and multiplication tables checks, to improve children’s fluency in literacy and mathematics.”


Find out more about how CEM’s baseline assessments can help provide the best start for your pupils