Schools should admit two year-olds, says Ofsted chief

Baroness Morgan has called for children to start school when they’re just two or three, to eradicate the effects of poverty on their performance.

Sally Morgan, who chairs Ofsted, has called for a network of academies for two to 18 year-olds to be set up to ensure that children from deprived backgrounds will be ready for school at five; at present they are 19 months behind their better-off peers.

She wants targeting disadvantaged under-fives to be “the next big, bold, brave move” in the education agenda, the Independent reports.  “What a dire start to their educational lives,” Baroness Morgan said, “They have low level skills, they’re not ready to learn at school. Weak parenting, low educational attainments of their parents, poor diet and poor housing all effect the gap between the affluent and disadvantaged as groups.” She added that efforts to conquer disadvantage had been targeted on pupils form five upwards and that there hadn’t been much improvement in provision for the under-fives.

Baroness Morgan’s demand is the latest development in the ongoing debate over the best way to prepare children for school. A new campaign, the Save Childhood Movement, is calling for formal education to be delayed until seven, with play-based activities being adopted in nurseries and infant schools. Richard House, a member of the movement, described her comments as “completely misguided”.

How would you feel about teaching children as young as two? Do they belong in a school environment or do you think formal education should start as late as seven, as campaigners want?

9 thoughts on “Schools should admit two year-olds, says Ofsted chief

  1. There are many high quality nurseries and pre schools which provide an excellent start for children. The early years grant pays for the first 15 hours from 3 and there was 2 year old funding for vulnerable children in Somerset when I worked for them 2 years ago. Problem is that children do not legally have to attend and it was often the case that those who needed to come didn’t turn up!!

  2. Caroline B is right. If there is no legal obligation to attend the children you want to target will not attend and, making it a legal obligation, to send one’s children to school at two or three sounds dreadful. Baroness Morgan really needs to think through the implications of her ideas before launching into print.

  3. Agree with Caroline above . Plus if formal teaching totally goes against research play development. Also think seriously 2 year olds also as young wee things still learning toileting may be an issue to cover her idea of formal teaching .
    Research proves that Norway, sweden etc don’t start school til 7 years old but still outperform our children who start too young !!
    Better to spend money on parenting support for this younger age group

  4. Is Baroness Morgan insinuating that poor people cannot bring up their children, how sad! Would it not be better to support those, rich and poor who need help in this area, than to encourage all families to part with their children before they have fulfilled a period of bonding with the child.

  5. Schools and teachers , no matter how well trained and well organised , cannot overcome bad parenting and the vagaries of dysfunctional homes !
    This is a problem for social services in conjunction with educators .

    Perhaps, the Baroness should focus her efforts on the Social Services ?

  6. Baroness Morgan has simply put into the spotlight all that is wrong with our education system and indeed much of our society, including herself and Ofsted! Nowhere in this article has anyone questioned or considered the importance of actual parenting itself and the responsibility of parents to ensure their own children’s early years are informative as well as enjoyable.
    If our parents are under such pressures that, unless they are ‘rich’, they can’t provide the sort of childhood that enables their children to go to the toilet and be able to identify a vegetable or the number 4 without the aid of teachers, computers and tests, what a sad depressing country this has become…
    When is the government going to address parenting issues, inlcuding support for those parents who do have to work etc. and are clearly currently considered ‘poor’ in Ofsted terms by being unable to send their children to pre-school education or to have an expensive nanny?
    In countries where children don’t even start school until they are 7 (Scandinavian countries and Japan, for example), as others have mentioned, not only do their children out-perform ours in all aspects; their parents are also encouraged and allowed to take long, positive maternity leave from work without being penalised, and their societies encourage positive, happy parenting which nurtures well-being as well as being formative – not to mention instilling positive overall attitude for life in all.
    I’d ask Baroness Morgan if she is aware of the 2013 Happiness Report and to perhaps suggest to Parliament that it is time for our society to wake up and make some fundamental changes to our existence and expectations, not to expect teachers and other educational or care professionals to bear the brunt of the country’s failures and dysfuction:
    http://denmark.dk/en/meet-the-danes/work-life-balance-the-danish-way/happy-danes/

  7. What is needed is more teaching staff in early years settings. if staff are more qualified than level 3 then they will able to support the idea of bridging the gap. the majority of children that qualify for the 2+ funding qualify for a reason and with that they do have specific needs, most of these needs being PSED or CL.
    I work in an integrated unit for ages 2-4 and I am a fully qualified teacher. I teach two year olds everyday during continuous provision. (my key worker group is for 3-4 year olds) what these vulnerable children need is quality interaction from adults and a good relationship and somebody who will play with them! they learn a lot through that. I disagree with formal education and preparing the children for ‘school’ they are 2 years and three years of age. what the government needs to do is invest money into nursery so they are able to give the quality of education that is taught through play! Baroness Morgan you obviously don’t have a clue about early years education and what it is all about!!

  8. Wasn’t that the remit of Sure Start? As a teacher, I can state that it was starting to help or so it seemed, it just needed time. Then, the coalition came along and the funding was not ring fenced. As a result many centres closed so now the provision is just too patchy to have any effect nationally, although it can still help locally.

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