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‘Children of the 2020s’ study to consider pandemic impact

By Rachel Lawlerman holding baby children of the 2020s study

A new study will follow a cohort of 8,000 children during the first five years of their lives in a bid to learn more about early childhood development.

Commissioned by the Department for Education and led by UCL, in partnership with teams at universities Cambridge, Oxford, Birkbeck and University of London, the study will impact decisions about early years services in England.

Families randomly selected to joint the trial will be visited by the study’s interview team to discuss their child’s development, family background and their own lives.

Parents will also be invited to use a smartphone app between interviews to log their child’s language and development and view news and tips from the expert team.

The 'children of the 2020s' study joins UCL’s famous previous cohort studies, which follow the lives of people born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1989-90 and 2000-02.

Professor Pasco Fearon, director of the study, commented: “More than 75 years ago, the first British birth cohort study, which is housed at UCL, was launched to track the lives of babies born just after the war. And now, Children of the 2020s will provide vital evidence about the early years as families navigate their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic and through the cost of living crisis.”

Children and families minister Will Quince said: “This is an important study that will provide an insight into the crucial early years of a child’s life and a wealth of evidence about their development and educational outcomes. We know the pandemic has created unique challenges for families and I’d like to thank the thousands who will be participating in this study over the next five years.”