The BBC has details of a report from MPs saying that the quality of pre-school Sure Start children’s centres in England needs to be taken as seriously as standards in schools…
But the Education Select Committee says there is a lack of clarity about the “core purpose” of children’s centres.
The report calls for more certainty about what they should provide and closer integration with other services.
“Education is too important to wait until children reach school age,” says committee chairman Graham Stuart.
The report from MPs into Sure Start centres warns that the government needs some “coherent, long-term thinking on early years and children’s centres”.
It says at present the expectations of children’s centres are “too vague and broad” and it is unclear whether they should prioritise support for parents or whether they are meant to provide early years education for children.
The report says that centres were set up as “gateways” to services for families with young children, but “in reality, there is a great variety in the services provided”.
Some might provide pre-school childcare while others deliver targeted services for families with particular problems.
When there is “confusion” about what children’s centres should provide, it becomes more difficult to measure the performance of individual centres, says the report.
It calls on the government to create a national framework setting out what should be expected from children’s centres.
There have been warnings about closures of Sure Start centres, but the report from MPs says it remains “surprisingly difficult” to be certain about numbers…
The report says Sure Start centres are popular with parents and are seen as providing useful services.
But early years education has been disrupted by “too much short-term and disparate government policy”.
“The government needs to be clear what children’s centres should be offering and who they are for,” says Mr Stuart.
Shadow children’s minister Lucy Powell said: “This report is a devastating verdict on an out-of-touch government with no strategy or vision for children and the early years.”…
Your thoughts on the findings from the Education Select Committee? If Sure Start centres need more certainty about their role, what would you say they should be focusing on? Please share in the comments or on twitter…