Children who start school in the most effective classes can expect to earn more than their peers in later life, according to a new study by Durham University and the Department for Education.
Research by Durham University has previously shown that children who are taught well in their first year of primary school go on to achieve better GCSE results in Maths and English, making the case for schools putting their best teachers in those classes.
This latest study reveals that the top 2.5% performing reception classes of 27 pupils in England could add between £50,000 and £200,000 in value to the UK economy, which is the equivalent of between £2,000 and £7,500 per pupil.
The analysis, which looked at pupils’ progress, shows that future earnings are influenced by teachers when children are as young as four years old, and that education plays a significant role in earning outcomes.
In addition to the potential boost in earnings, the social and economic returns from investments in high-quality classes when pupils first start school may also be much larger than the study’s estimates, especially for disadvantaged pupils.
For the report, the team linked estimates from two studies to predict changes in later earnings, associated with progress during the children’s first year at school. By assessing children at the beginning and end of the first year, the team was able to identify classes as ‘effective’, which is where children made significantly more progress than average.
The researchers took account of a range of social and economic factors that could have skewed the results including children’s age, term of starting school, sex, ethnicity, special needs, English as an additional language, deprivation and school/class membership.