Warning over children’s ‘work-life balance’ under nursery reforms

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CHILDREN are being “institutionalised” too young and need a decent balance between time at nursery and school and being at home with their parents, a teachers’ leader has suggested.

Parents and young children have a right to get to know each other and should have time to do so, according to Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Her comments came as Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said government reforms have made it easier for schools to open new nurseries and operate longer hours to give families more choice. At its annual conference in Manchester next week, ATL is to debate a motion raising concerns that calls for youngsters to start school at an earlier age.

It follows controversy sparked by Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw who called for more youngsters to start learning in school nurseries from the age of two, in an attempt to break a cycle of disadvantage which sees poorer children fall far behind their classmates by the time they are five. He dismissed the argument that young children should be given time to play before beginning to learn as a “middle-class prejudice” and said parents should have a checklist of vital skills a child should have mastered before arriving at primary school.

Yesterday Ms Truss set out plans to improve and expand teaching in early years. Restrictions have been removed so any school can open a nursery and school nurseries can open for longer.

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