Liberal Democrat Children’s Minister Sarah Teather today spoke to Lib Dem Voice about her campaign to put a fair start for children at the heart of the government’s reform agenda. Her first announcement is a review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets out what three and four year olds should do in pre-school and nursery.
Sarah Teather said,
Liberal Democrats have always seen education as the key to social mobility. It isn’t right that differences in social background are evident as early as 22 months and that children from deprived backgrounds are overtaken by lower-achieving children from advantaged backgrounds by age 5.
But we know we can make a difference. There is real evidence that good quality early years education, provided by skilled professionals, makes an impact. It helps all children to succeed at school and beyond, but crucially it helps those from disadvantaged backgrounds the most.
So this review, which will cover what happens in every nursery across the country, will look particularly at the evidence of what works for those children who will benefit from it most. It will also look at how the system can be made less bureaucratic, so that small voluntary and private sector groups can continue to run local nurseries, so parents can choose the place that’s right for their child.
I’ve campaigned for better early years provision for years – now we have the chance to make it happen in Government.
Here is the full text of her written ministerial statement:
I have asked Dame Clare Tickell, Chief Executive of Action for Children, to carry out an independent review of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). I have written to Dame Clare today to set out the remit of this review and I would like to take this opportunity to provide the House with further details.
I recognise that the EYFS has helped to promote a consistent approach to early learning and development of children aged 0-5, and has done much to raise standards, and keep children safe. However, I am concerned that the framework is too rigid and puts too many burdens on the early years workforce. I have asked Dame Clare to consider what the evidence tells us about how children can best be supported in their early learning, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how all children should be prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by more formal learning in primary school. I have also asked her to consider how to reduce the burden of the EYFS on those who have to deliver it.
The review will cover four main areas:
• Scope of regulation – whether there should be a single framework for all early years providers;
• Learning and development – looking at the latest evidence on how children are best supported in their learning and development and what is needed to give them the best start at school;
• Assessment – how young children’s development should be assessed;
• Welfare – the minimum standards to keep children safe and support their healthy development.
We need a framework that raises standards and keeps children safe. But we also need framework which is responsive to the needs of parents and supports a diverse and flexible childcare market.
I am delighted that Dame Clare has agreed to lead this important review of the EYFS. Her knowledge of the needs of children and families, especially those from more disadvantaged areas, and the importance of early intervention means she is well placed to advise on how young children can best be supported, and how we can free up the system so that it works for both childcare workers and parents.
The review will start in September this year, and I have asked Dame Clare to produce her final report in spring 2011. We will be looking to implement any changes from September 2012 onwards.
I have placed a copy of the letter sent today to Dame Clare in the House Libraries.