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Emeritus Professor Edward (Ted) Melhuish OBE, FAcSS, FAPS FBPsS

Professor Emeritus of Human Development


Ted first studied psychology at Bristol and received his PhD in 1979, after studying part-time at the University of London (Bedford College). He was appointed Professor of Human Development at Cardiff University in 1994, and in 2001 moved to Birkbeck as Professor of Human Development and Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues in the Department of Psychological Sciences (then the School of Psychology). In 2012 Ted was also appointed Professor of Human Development at the University of Oxford.



  • Ted studies social and communicative development from birth to adulthood, including the effect of environmental factors, in several longitudinal studies. He is also interested in early education and care, parenting, child poverty and disadvantage, and child development and social policy. He has devoted much of his life to the conduct of theoretically driven research to address applied issues and policy questions to produce improvements in development and well-being in areas such as the development of pre-term babies, the children of psychiatrically disturbed parents, social, linguistic and cognitive development, emergent literacy, and early childhood education and care and the evaluation of policy initiatives.

Roles and input to government policy

  • Ted’s work has been funded by many government bodies and has had enormous influence on government policy here and around the world. He has directed or co-directed many multi-million pound programmes and evaluation studies including the National Evaluation of Sure Start (£19M) and its extension (£2.0M), EPPE (£2.7M), EPPSE (£2.2M) and its extension (£1.6M), SEED (£5.1M) and ISOTIS (£6.5M). These studies have resulted in numerous government reports and many high profile research papers. Crucially this research has contributed to the formulation of social policy for young children.
  • Ted has been a scientific advisor in Norway, Finland, Portugal, South Korea and Chile, as well as for the European Commission, OECD and WHO. Research that he has been involved in has influenced the 1989 Children Act, 2004 Children Act, 2006 Childcare Bill and policy on childcare, preschool education, child poverty and parental support in the UK and other countries.
  • He is a consultant to the European Commission, OECD, UNICEF and WHO. He prepared the draft childcare regulations for the Department of Health & Social Security, incorporated into the 1989 Children Act.
  • He has, on several occasions, prepared briefings for the relevant Minister of State for Children and Young People. He has also acted as a consultant on research and policy issues to almost every Minister for Children since the post was created in 2002 and been involved in numerous policy seminars involving Child Poverty, Early Years, Sure Start etc. at 10 and 11 Downing Street, Treasury, DfE, DoH, Office for Equal Opportunities.
  • He has also served as an expert witness to several meetings of the House of Commons Select Committee on Children and was invited to sit on the advisory panel for the Commission on Health Inequalities chaired by Sir Michael Marmot, in 2009. He was also deputy chair on a committee on an Outcomes Framework for Children’s Centres, chaired by Sir Michael Marmot, in 2012.
  • In 2016 he was a consultant to the Department of Education for the revision of the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework, which came into effect in 2017. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.
  • In 2016, Ted’s work was acknowledged with an OBE in the honours list. He is a Fellow of British Psychological Society, The Association for Psychological Science, and the Academy of Social Scientists.