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Key data on early childhood education and care in Europe 2014

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European Commission/ Eurydice and Eurostat
Publication Date: 
1 Jul 2014



The Eurydice Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe 2014 report, published jointly with Eurostat, contributes to informing policy efforts on early childhood education and care by combining statistical data and qualitative information to describe the structure, organisation and funding of early childhood education and care systems. It analyses issues which are important for the development of quality services identified through European policy co-operation, such as access, governance, quality assurance, affordability, professionalisation of staff, leadership, parental involvement and measures to support disadvantaged children. It aims to provide insights into what constitutes high quality early childhood education and care through internationally comparable indicators. This is the second report on the topic, following the 2009 report that focused on tackling social and cultural inequalities through ECEC. It covers 32 countries and 37 education systems.

Main findings:

  • 32 million children are in the age range to use ECEC services in Europe
  • Only eight European countries guarantee every child an early place in 
  • ECEC - often directly following childcare leave
  • In most European countries, ECEC is split into two separate phases according to age
  • Participation in ECEC is low for the under-3s, but high during the year or two before starting primary education
  • International student achievement surveys (PISA and PIRLS) clearly show the benefits of ECEC attendance
  • Fees for ECEC vary considerably between European countries but around half provide education free of charge from age 3
  • Local authorities often finance ECEC for younger children while they share costs with the central level for older children
  • Educational staff working with older children are usually required to have a Bachelor's degree as a minimum qualification
  • Heads of ECEC settings need relevant experience in most countries, but they receive specific management training in fewer countries
  • All countries set learning objectives related to children's progress and development
  • Most countries regularly assess children's progress and pay special attention to the transition between ECEC and primary education
  • Many countries recommend that settings provide support for parents and involve them in ECEC governance
  • Regulated home-based provision exists in most European countries, but the training required for childminders is often quite short
  • Disadvantaged children have lower ECEC participation rates, even though most countries offer means-tested financial support to parents
  • Support measures for disadvantaged children exist in most European countries; in most cases they focus on language development