The Labour party manifesto brings in a new policy on early education and childcare. It extends the government’s 30 hours of free childcare programme to the parents of all two-, three- and four-year-olds and improves the training of childcare workers. How new or radical is this policy? Can it deliver?
In my new book Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible: A memoir of work in childcare and education (Routledge) I explore the changes in early education and childcare policy over the last 50 years, from the point of view of someone working in the services and trying to change them. On 6 November, a conference at the UCL Institute of Education, Looking Back, Looking Forwards, will take the debate further.
When I began as an early years teacher in London 50 years ago, there were three (more…)
In the early 1990s, it was still possible for Ministers to argue that early-childhood education was a luxury the taxpayer couldn’t afford. Although Britain’s best nurseries were renowned and studied round the world, there was little empirical evidence demonstrating their concrete, ongoing benefits for children. For most families, meanwhile, a mixed bag of pre-school provision was on offer via a classic postcode lottery.
By 1997, with a General Election looming, the Conservative Government had begun a substantial programme of nursery investment and regulation. The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education project was commissioned to find out what types of provision and early experiences were most effective. (more…)