begin their education as toddlers to be "school ready" at 5. Whilst claiming, in her own words
“The importance of the quality of the provision small children have in early years settings is well documented, but as I found last week in the reactions to a speech I made, the whole topic is quite contentious! "Early years" provision includes nurseries, childminders, nannies, play groups and, of course, these are often part-time and mixed with time at home with parents or grandparents."She then goes on to see that she would like to see more of
"the 3-18 model is working successfully in many academies up and down the UK."I strongly disagree with this. Shipping children off outside the home too early can be highly detrimental emotionally, especially to boys. There can never be a "one size fits all" approach to pre school provision and all children are different - and they are all also very, very young. Parents know their children best and choice is always a good thing. Preschools, childminders, family members and - shock horror- PARENTS THEMSELVES are in fact very well placed to deliver an excellent pre school experience in a loving environment. Sadly with the increase in nursery classes at school (which OFSTED actively encourage) taking children as young as 3 the numbers of state funded children attending pre schools (and other settings) is falling - and those wonderful places are closing in alarming numbers.
Nursery classes attached to schools get children on the "achievement conveyor belt" far too early, and however much their "education" is play and discovery based there is no getting away from the fact that they are in a class in a school. The environment is totally different, teachers constrained far more by school policies and targets, timetables and calendars. It is too much too soon. Ms Morgan quite rightly points out that the focus needs to be on providing opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, who all too often start school barely knowing their colours or able to count to ten. But depressing statistics like that are not going to be turned around by opening schools to ever younger children.
‘Nurseries attached to schools are uniquely placed to help young children master the skills and learning habits that will lead to success in primary school and beyond.’No. School nurseries are part of a bigger machine which all too often forgets how small their children are, their need for spontaneity and care. No 3 year old should feel they have their day prescribed for them in that way. Learning habits will be acquired incidentally, with no "teaching" required if a young child is loved, stimulated and valued. Children are like sponges - very often they learn in spite of adult attempts to teach. As a parent of four very different children I tried to "teach" my eldest. The other three I gave opportunities to in abundance and focussed on their lead rather than my instruction. I know which worked best for us. Two of them attended a nursery type "pre school" two mornings a week, and two were ready for a bit more - but it was always separate from a bigger school environment - even if on the premises and only every a couple of sessions a week.
A major problem with school nursery classes is that there is an expectation of attendance. Families are caught up in the idea that somehow their child will "miss out" if they don't get in early - I have even heard some schools saying they cannot guarantee a child a place in Reception if they have not attended the school nursery. This deprives parents of choice and will only end in all 3 year olds attending school to secure places for the future.
There will always be those who would benefit from early intervention, and those who actually are ready for something aged 3+ also. But it's the inevitable progression I object to. Once you have State Nursery classes it creates an expectation, a curriculum and target setting. Let's go back to good preschools which are totally child centred and not part of a bigger agenda. Choice, yes - but not prescriptive inevitability. It's all very well comparing our school results with those from countries like China and Japan but the stress placed on those children is not something I would like to see replicated here. Results are not everything, healthy and happy individuals are usually successful and achieve well.