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Volume 79: debated on Tuesday 21 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research his Department is sponsoring into the effect on children's educational achievement of previous attendance at pre-school playgroups; and if he will make a statement.

A research project by Professor Neville Butler of Bristol university has just been completed. The research concerned the association of pre-school educational experience with subsequent cognitive development, educational achievement and behavioural adjustment. I understand that it included children with pre-school playgroup experience. We expect to receive Professor Butler's report shortly.My right hon. Friend announced on 27 February 1985 at column 180 that he had commissioned a critical evaluation of research into the education of under-fives undertaken over recent years from Professor Margaret Clark of Birmingham university.Chapter 4 of "Better Schools" — Cmnd. 9469 — comments on the role of playgroups within the context of the education of the under-fives.