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.”
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