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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Christine Merrell

Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2011). Changes in Children’s Cognitive Development at the Start of School in England 2001 – 2008. Oxford Review of Education 37(3): 333-345.

Author(s) from Durham


Since 1997, England has seen massive changes in the Early Years including the introduction of an early childhood curriculum, free pre-school education for three-year-olds and local programmes for disadvantaged communities. Many of these initiatives took time to introduce and become established. Beginning in 2001, and each year thereafter until 2008, the authors collected consistent data from thousands of children when they started school at the age of four on a range of variables, chosen because they are good predictors of later success. These included vocabulary, early reading and early mathematics. Children from the same set of 472 state primary schools in England were assessed each year. This paper contributes to the existing studies of educational trends over time by examining the extent to which children's scores on these measures changed over that period; in general, they were found to have remained stable.