Birth to Three Matters

Research developed from the pioneering Birth to Three Matters project put the care and education of children firmly on the public agenda.

In 2001 the UK government commissioned a 'framework of best practice' to support children in their earliest years. The resulting framework, Birth to Three Matters, was developed by a team based at Manchester Metropolitan University led by Professor Lesley Abbott.

The team consulted with a wide range of partners including children, parents, practitioners, early childhood specialists and policymakers in the development of the framework. Instead of focusing on curriculum headings or specific areas of experience, the framework opted for a child-centred approach – dividing into the four aspects of 'a strong child', 'a skilful communicator', 'a competent learner' and 'a healthy child'.

Published as 'Birth to Three Matters' the materials were distributed nationally in 2003. Five years later the framework was incorporated into statutory Early Years Foundation Stage legislation.

The Birth to Three Matters research carried out during the framework development has raised important issues for future debate, policy and practice.