Professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford,
and Birkbeck, University of London

Edward Melhuish is Professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford, and Birkbeck, University of London.

He has undertaken research in 12 countries, and is currently undertaking large-scale longitudinal studies in Norway, the UK, and Australia involving family, community and pre-school influences on child development, and policy implications. He is also taking part in an EU-project (ISOTIS) on inequality in childhood involving 11 countries.

His studies contributed to social policy in the UK in the area of families, young children, early education and social disadvantage, including the 1989 Children Act, the 2005 Children Act, 2006 Childcare Bill and policy on childcare, early education, child poverty and parental support in the UK and other countries. He has served as an expert witness to several House of Commons Select Committees, and is a member of a Child Well-being working group of WHO, and the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group Early Childhood Interventions Group. With 300 publications, he has contributed to discussions of social policy for children in Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, Korea, Chile, European Commission, OECD and WHO. He has been a scientific advisor to UK research funding agencies and also to many overseas research funding bodies: NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research); Academy of Finland; Nordic Research Councils for Humanities and Social Sciences; Portuguese Research Council (FCT); European Commission; Australian Research Council; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council). He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2016 was awarded an OBE for Services to Social Sciences. Over many years he has acted as an advisor and consultant on a pro-bono basis to many charities and voluntary organisations involved with child well-being, including NSPCC, Save the Children, Action for Children, 4Children, BIG Lottery Fund, Early Years Ireland, Atlantic Philanthropies, National Children's Bureau, Children in Wales, Early Intervention Fund, and Eurochild. He is a trustee of the WAVE trust and the Foundation Years Trust.

Early Years Experience and Long-term Development with implications for Social Inclusion

There has been a range of evidence from numerous countries over recent decades that the child’s early years experience has profound consequences for later life. Also the long-term disadvantages associated with social inclusion have their roots in children’s early development. Recent evidence from large-scale longitudinal studies indicate how differing patterns of experience in the early years, both in the home and outside the home, (e.g., pre-school education), can have long-term impact on children’s educational and socio-emotional development.   In particular the home learning environment and pre-school experience in the early years continue to have an impact upon children’s development through to adulthood.  Such aspects of early experience have the potential for improvement with possible consequences for children’s development and this may be particularly important for disadvantaged groups. 

In particular, language development and self-regulation are aspects of early development are critical mediating variables linking early experience with later development.  Relevant evidence is discussed as well as its relevance to practice and policy, together with some examples of practice in the international and Australian context.