Call for better nursery schooling to bridge gap

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MORE nursery education should be carried out in schools to prepare children better for later education and help bridge the gap between rich and poor, the chief inspector of schools has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw warned that too many early years education providers are failing to teach youngsters “social, emotional and learning skills” and get them ready to start primary school.

Pupils from poorer backgrounds are also too often falling behind their more privileged peers by the time they reach school age, but bringing “structured” early years provision into a school setting would help put them on equal footing.

His comments came ahead of Ofsted’s first Early Years Annual Report, published today, which will call for a radical shake-up of early years education in England.

The report will highlight the continuing gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and more affluent youngsters, saying too many children are not ready for school.

Only a third of children from low income backgrounds reach what is considered a good level of development at the early years stage, and once behind will struggle to catch up with their peers, Ofsted said.

Sir Michael will say: “Too many of our poorest children are getting an unsure start because the early years system is letting them down.”

But he will argue that this doesn’t have to be the case, saying: “There are areas of the country, particularly London, where most children do well and the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged is closing.

“There is nothing inevitable about the link between poverty and failure. Indeed we have to ask ourselves why, if this is 
being done well in some places, 
it isn’t being done everywhere else?

“We have to ask ourselves, if there is a political consensus on the importance of a sure start in life for all, if so much money is being spent on it, why on earth has so little changed?”