Poor children in private or voluntary preschools ‘at double disadvantage’

The Independent is reporting a new study that suggests children from poor backgrounds are at a double disadvantage if they go to private or voluntary nurseries and preschools…

…The report, carried out by researchers from Oxford University and published by the Nuffield Foundation, shows that standards in the private sector in disadvantaged areas is of “lower quality” than in those settings serving more affluent homes.

“In other words, the children most in need of good quality early provisions are actually amongst the least likely to receive it,” it concludes.

It describes its findings as being of “serious concern”, adding that it shows that the private and voluntary sector is “not effectively rising to the challenge and offering comparable quality for disadvantaged children”.

“A clear gradient was evident with quality decreasing as deprivation increases,” it adds.

The report looked at provision in more than 1,000 private sector early years providers and 160 state-maintained nursery and primary schools. It exempted state run nursery schools from the criticism, saying that their provision was sometimes even better than that provided in more affluent areas.

However, it noted that about 30 per cent of children from disadvantaged homes attended private sector provision.

One of the reasons given for the gap in quality is the lack of qualified teaching staff in private sector provision…

Figures show that while all school classes are led by a qualified graduate, less than half the private and voluntary nurseries and preschools employ one, and only eight per cent employ more than one.

The report recommends increasing the number of graduates working in the private sector through the use of the pupil premium, which has just been extended to cover enrolling disadvantaged three and four-year-olds. A recent report by education standards watchdog Ofsted showed 76 per cent of provision in disadvantaged areas was good or outstanding compared with 86 per cent in more affluent areas.

Sandra Mathers, lead author of the report, said: “It is vital that we equip nurseries and preschools with the tools and support they need to help disadvantaged children overcome the odds and reach their full potential.”…

More at: Poor children in private preschools ‘at double disadvantage’

What do you make of the claims that nurseries and preschools in the private sector in disadvantaged areas tend to have lower standards than either those in the state sector or those in more affluent areas? What would you suggest can be done about it and do you support the idea of using pupil premium money to increase the number of qualified graduates? Please share your reactions and insights in the comments or via Twitter…

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