Understanding the World – Area of Learning

About this project

This study explored effective practice and provision in early years settings to support children’s learning. 

The research investigated the experiences and perceptions of early years practitioners in relation to the Understanding the World Area of Learning which incorporates three of the seventeen Early Learning Goals contained within the Early Years Foundation Stage. These Early Learning Goals are; ‘People and Communities’, ‘The World’ and ‘Technology’.  The study was conducted within the city of Stoke-on-Trent in England where official published data reveals only 71% of pupils achieve or exceed the expected standard against the Understanding the World area of learning where the national average is 83%.  A mixed methods approach was adopted comprising an online survey and semi-structured interviews with practitioners working with children in private and maintained day nurseries and primary school reception classes where good and outstanding results are achieved for the city’s disadvantaged children.  The findings of the study include the identification of best practice examples along with features of effective provision.  Barriers to children’s progression and attainment of these specific Early Learning Goals were also ascertained.  The project’s recommendations are now being put into practice in the city’s early years settings.

Lead researcher

Dr Jim Pugh

Director - Inst. Of Ed. - Assoc Prof.

I am proud to be the Director of the Institute of Education leading an innovative group of professionals, educators, researchers and working with our creative and exciting students, partners and community.

Jim's profile

Associated researchers

Professor Gillian Forrester

Professor Of Education Policy

I lead the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD), which is a vibrant research degree programme for professional educators. I supervise doctoral students (PhD and EdD) and I am involved in several externally funded research projects.

Gillian's profile

Dr Ruth Hudson

P/T Lecturer (Hrly) - Education

Ruth's profile

Funding support

Fully funded by the Stoke-on-Trent Opportunities Area programme.


in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021