Cognitive gaps in the early years: a summary of findings from the report 'Low income and early cognitive development in the UK'

Sutton Trust
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Summarises the findings of the report on low income and early cognitive development in the UK conducted for the Sutton Trust. The research explored the relationship between children from low income homes, a child’s scores on 3 cognitive tests at 5 years old, and a wide range of factors that are potentially consequential for children’s development. Data was taken from the Millennium Cohort Survey, using a nationally representative sample of 12,644 British 5 year olds in 2006 and 2007. The most striking characteristic of the pre-school cognitive gap found was the size of the gap in vocabulary test scores between children from low income households and middle income households. This gap was more marked than that between middle and higher income children. Parenting style and the home environment (for example parental reading and trips to museums and galleries) were found to contribute up to half of the explained cognitive gap between the lowest and middle income families. The authors discuss how current government policy and current early years practice might be developed in light of the findings. These include provision of effective parenting programmes, collaboration between health visitors and early learning practitioners, provision of outreach projects to improve contact with vulnerable families, redirection of government funding for nursery education to extended nursery education provision for 2-4 year old from the 15% most disadvantaged families which should be complemented by automatic access to a proven parenting programme.

Subject terms:
low income, parental skills training, parenting, poverty, pre-school children, risk, child development, educational performance;
Content type:
United Kingdom

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