Schools should admit children at two, says Ofsted chief

According to the Telegraph, Baroness Sally Morgan, the chairman of Ofsted, has called for a radical drive to raise standards of early education, including enrolling more children in school-based nurseries…

…Early exposure to formal education is needed to eradicate the 19-month achievement gap seen between rich and poor pupils by the age by five, it is claimed.

Baroness Morgan said that many deprived children had “low social skills”, poor standards of reading and an inability to communicate properly, meaning they were “not ready to learn” when they entered the first full year of school.

She called for the creation of a new generation of “all-through” schools that combine nurseries with primary and secondary education – enabling children to be enrolled at the age of two or three and remain up to 18.

The comments come amid ongoing debate over the best way to prepare children for compulsory education…

Baroness Morgan, a Labour peer, who joined Ofsted as chairman in 2011, said that too many children failed to get a decent grounding in the basics before the age of five, with the poorest children lagging just over a year-and-a-half behind the wealthiest.

“What a dire start to their educational life,” she said. “Those children have low level social skills, especially reading and communication. They’re not ready to learn at school.

“Weak parenting, low educational attainment of parents, poor diet, poor housing and so on – the gap between affluent and disadvantaged is greatest in that group.”

Addressing a conference in central London organised by ARK Schools, she suggested that more schools should open nurseries to give children exposure to formal education at an early stage.

Increasing numbers of schools are becoming “all-through” – taking pupils from ages five to 18 – but these schools could add nurseries to extend provision to two or three-year-olds, she suggested.

“I think there needs to be a big bold brave move on the under-fives agenda to target funding heavily on the children who will benefit most and increasingly I think to look to strong providers to go further down the system,” she said. “We’ve increasingly got five to 18 schools, why not three?”

…Richard House, a member of the Save Childhood Movement group, labelled her comments as “completely misguided”.

“If this proposal happens, I think it could be a catastrophe for young children,” she said.

He added: “What will happen is that early childhood will become ‘schoolified’.

“That early childhood… is a period of their development and learning which has its own intrinsic value. It shouldn’t be treated merely as a preparation for schooling.”

More at:  Schools should admit children at two, says Ofsted chief

Are you with Baroness Morgan here or Richard House? Please let us know what you make of the arguments in the comments below, via twitter and by taking part in our poll: “Should schools be encouraged to take children aged two into in-house nursery provision?”

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Categories: Pre-school.


  1. kykaree

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove lol kids aren’t ready to start school at 4 so start them at 2 instead. Priceless logic.

  2. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove 2yrs old-believe 4yrs is to young. 7yrs is a gd age to start school. believe the reason is for poor families? Cont.

  3. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove Start child school 2yrs? Is this another Govt. idea help poor income families? Reasons for it is complete rubbish..

  4. kykaree

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove the government doesn’t really want poor kids on par with rich kids anyway, social inclusion isn’t a tory thing

  5. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove Parents/every1 need to stop the Govt. & start asking what they’re doing with Education-children pushed No wellbeing

  6. ZCMRock

    SchoolsImprove this is bizarre! Th best place for a two-year-old is with their parents and family where they can “learn” through play.

  7. getcarter66

    SchoolsImprove Children start school at 2yrs? Reason is to help poor income families? Absolute rubbish, People need the tools not childcare

  8. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove Well? Govt. Implemented Free schools at the expense of state run. and at a very high cost too. if yer right cont.

  9. LearnWLesley

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove absolutely. Perhaps during prenatal care they can be given advice & help. Giving young adults opp to re-educate

  10. kykaree

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove from my understanding of that article its just that Ofsted woman. I doubt its govt policy

  11. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove Ofsted isn’t independent… it should be but that issue is for another day 🙂 idea is worrying & I feel it’s cont.

  12. kykaree

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove oh I know its not independent, clearly not, but I still don’t think govt would implement they stand to lose…

  13. kykaree

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove too much, would bring private nursery system to its knees #nobadthing #imo but not gonna happen

  14. getcarter66

    kykaree SchoolsImprove Education and schools need to be debated in this country. Gove has been allowed to implement-Q’s need to be asked

  15. Janet2

    Ah – Baroness Morgan: chair of Ofsted and adviser to academy chain ARK.  Expecting children to enter school at two would bring in more cash, sorry children, to academy chains.
    The Schools Admission Code has ruled against schools who’ve given priority to children at attached nurseries because education before 5 isn’t compulsory.  Such arrangements discriminated against parents who were unwilling or unable to take up a place in the attached nursery.
    And it would be, of course, a way of filtering out children who would be more likely to bring down a school’s league table results.

  16. kykaree

    SchoolsImprove getcarter66 exactly it’s not going to ever be Tory policy if it is I’ll eat my son’s Biff Chip and Kipper book

  17. Flutterbiesltd

    getcarter66 SchoolsImprove couldn’t agree more! Too much of a divide now between rich n poor this affects learning

  18. SarahCTE

    SchoolsImprove If they hadn’t closed so many childrens’ centres they could have focused on whole families & make a real difference.

  19. Janet2

    OECD’s PISA tests of 15-year-olds show that, in most countries, pupils who have attended pre-primary education tend to perform better than those who have not. It also shows that longer pre-primary education, smaller pupil-to-teacher ratios and higher public expenditure per child all enhance the positive effects of pre-primary schooling.
    BUT the OECD’s idea of “pre-primary education” was schooling targeted at three- and four-year-olds NOT age two.  And pre-primary education in countries which delay the start of formal education can mean ages five and six as well.  And “smaller pupil-to-teacher ratios” are unlikely to find favour with schools minister Liz Truss who wants to raise the number of children per carer.

  20. FionaTipper

    SchoolsImprove wait…didn’t someone say formal schooling age should be raised to 7? Is the idea for FIVE years kicking about in nursery?

  21. AFA3AS

    SchoolsImprove quality EYs provision is needed with exceptionally well trained staff who understand needs of our more vulnerable children

  22. beccabumbum

    SchoolsImprove way too young. Chn can’t concentrate at 5 never mind 2! Not enough spaces at school anyway for children !

  23. Primageographer

    SchoolsImprove No – raise family standards of living & parental expertise; value family not institutional care & a real range of learning

  24. DanielleButton

    SchoolsImprove i was at the summit. They want to target 3 yr olds in areas of ‘deprevation’ where ‘need is greatest’ as they lack education

  25. tracykewley

    SchoolsImprove No! Invest instead in 1) libraries 2) showing parents the value of reading with their children 3) getting books into homes.

  26. fairyjasminesu

    tracykewley parents no longer come in to hear children read which is sad and due to cut backs, libraries have a smaller selection of books

  27. fairyjasminesu

    tracykewley parents no longer come in to hear children read which is sad and due to cut backs, libraries have a smaller selection of books

  28. fairyjasminesu

    tracykewley SchoolsImprove question is how to make a difference. What can schools and parents do to make that change.

  29. Organic_Jane

    SchoolsImprove Oh we ARE childcare not education! Clearly someone read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World & thought it was a good idea.

  30. tracykewley

    fairyjasminesu SchoolsImprove I think all we can do is use every opp. to promote the joys of reading and campaign against library closures

  31. fiftieslearner

    Yeah  the disadvantaged are 19 months behind so should we send only the children of the poor, so they can catch up!

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