Skip to content


Sandra Mathers, Dr

Principal Investigator, Senior Researcher at Department for Education

Sandra is known nationally and internationally for policy-relevant research on early years education and care (ECEC), with a strong focus on educational inequality. Her experience includes longitudinal studies (Millennium Cohort Study, A Better Start), evaluations of government initiatives (Graduate Leader Fund, Early Education Pilot for Two-Year Old-Children), early language intervention (URLEY, Talking Time, Texts for Talk) and quality and inequality in ECEC (Starting Out Right, Sound Foundations, Quality and Inequality, Improving Quality in the Early Years). She has co-led several large-scale studies, and is currently leading the ECEC strand of the latest DfE longitudinal study, Children of the 2020s, which will follow 8,000 children and families. Sandra has developed several early interventions designed to enhance children’s oral language skills through improvements in the quality of preschool practice and the home language environment. She is particularly interested in the development of adult (teachers and parents) knowledge, skills and behaviour – for example through continuing professional development. She is knowledgeable about both policy and practice and has advised DfE (e.g. Expert Panel on EY apps/Hungry Little Minds, EYFS revisions), the Education Endowment Foundation (e.g. EY toolkit, EY Literacy Guidance Report) and Ofsted. She is experienced in stakeholder engagement and well-respected nationally within the early years sector.

Sandra Mathers's contributions