I’ve just learned here and here that the UK wants to institute early learning, in the form of formalised lessons for two year olds from ‘poor backgrounds’. Lady Sally Morgan, the head of Ofsted, a former Cabinet Office minister and adviser to Tony Blair has suggested that under-achieving students should be in formal schooling from ages two to 18. While studies have shown it’s not a good idea, because it ignores the variability of children’s school readiness, it doesn’t correlate with positive post-school outcomes and the US’ experience with head-start shows it doesn’t work, education experts in the UK are pushing it as a panacea to disadvantage. Morgan argues:
Those children have low-level social skills, especially reading and communication. They’re not ready to learn at school. Weak parenting, low educational attainment of parents, poor diet, poor housing and so on, the gap between affluent and disadvantaged is greatest in that group
At the moment, a lot of children from really disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t ready to learn, so the school almost has to provide nurturing before it can start to educate
However, early years experts in the UK see this as a battle to be fought in 2014. I hope it’s one they win.