GRADUATES should lead lessons in every nursery in England as part of efforts to improve reading standards, campaigners have said.
More than half a million children in independent nurseries are missing out on the benefits of having a qualified early years teacher, according to Read On. Get On, a coalition of charities, teachers, parents and businesses.
In a report published today, the group described the quality of early education in England as “too variable” and often weakest in the poorest areas.
It said many disadvantaged children are already behind before they start school and claimed this contributes to literacy problems later, citing figures showing that one in five 11-year-olds in England cannot read well.
The report said that just 13 per cent of staff in independent nurseries – which make up three quarters of the total in the country – have a relevant degree.
Read On. Get On called on the next government to commit to ensuring that by 2020 an early- years graduate is leading lessons in every nursery, with a priority placed on those serving disadvantaged children.
It said: “Every young child, but especially those growing up in poverty, should be able to benefit from good quality early education led by a trained early years graduate. Currently, two in five children attending free early education in a private nursery are missing out.”
However, the move would require 11,000 more graduates, the campaign group said. It suggested offering an increased early years pupil premium to £1,300 for three and four-year-olds to nurseries who employ an early years teacher. Figures show that more pupils leave primary school in Yorkshire at 11 without grasping reading, writing and maths than anywhere else in England. One in four start secondary school in the region without mastering the basics in the three Rs.
Dame Julia Cleverdon, chairman of the campaign, said: “It’s time to make nurseries the front line in tackling social mobility. Every child deserves a fair start in life – regardless of the wealth of their family.
“By providing quality and qualified teaching in every nursery, we can ensure every child arrives at school with the building blocks in place to learn to read and succeed.”
CBI director-general John Cridland said: “Without the ability to read well, access to the skills, knowledge and understanding needed for a career is difficult.
“Investing in early years education to get children reading more frequently and confidently could create a level playing field of opportunity from the very start, and give every young person the best possible preparation for their lives.”
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