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Govt: Good quality childcare 'all that matters'

Good quality childcare is "all that matters", according to an education minister, who will announce plans to structure nursery education in an attempt to bridge the gap between low income and middle class pupils.

The Department for Education wants a "school-led system that is self-improving" in early years, which Liz Truss believes should be achievable without huge expense.

Sir Michael Wilshaw - who spoke about this last week - is absolutely right.

The early years are vitally important, and they're our best opportunity to eradicate the gap before it gets any bigger...

That's why we have been simplifying the red-tape, making it easier for good providers to expand.

Schools, nurseries, private providers, childminders - as long as you're providing good-quality childcare, that's all that matters - and there is a place for everybody.

– Liz Truss

Read: Government backs plan for more teaching at nursery

Government backs plan for more teaching at nursery

Nursery children will be given more structured learning under new plans.
Nursery children will be given more structured learning under new plans. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

An education minister will tomorrow endorse the chief inspector of schools' vision for more teaching in early years, despite a wave of criticism of the plans.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw sparked controversy last week with a call for more youngsters to start learning in school nurseries from the age of two, saying it would help break a cycle of disadvantage which sees poorer children fall far behind their classmates by the time they are five.

In a speech in London tomorrow, education minister Liz Truss will back the chief inspector's position and set out plans to improve and expand teaching in early years.

Restrictions have been removed so that any school can open a nursery and school nurseries can open for longer hours to fit in with parents' work schedules, she will say.

Ofsted calls for children to start school ready to learn

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Ofsted: Sure Start 'has failed to close gap in education'

The chief executive of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw said the government's Sure Start programme had failed to effectively close the gap in educational achievement between rich and poor students.

More: Poor children getting 'an unsure start'

In an interview with Political Correspondent Libby Wiener, he said although Sure Start had helped some of the most troubled families, it had not had enough of an impact, and more could be done within the educational sector itself.

Read: Ofsted calls for more 'structured' early years education to prepare children for school

Poor children 'should get priority at primary schools'

Schools regulator Ofsted wants poor children to be prioritised for places at good primary schools, in order to try and address the educational achievement gap between rich and poor.

Read: Ofsted says early years education 'letting poorer children down'

In its first inspection of the pre-primary education, inspectors found stark inequalities in how children had been prepared for school, and called for nurseries to improve the structure of their education.

Read: Ofsted calls for more 'structured' start to education

Children and a teacher at the Windrush Nursery in Greenwich, south east London. Credit: Press Association

To get the priority place, children would need to take up a government-funded place at age two. It also called for the new pupil premium to be extended to two-year-olds.

More: Laws says pupil premium 'fully delivers' manifesto pledge

The government currently funds free nursery places for poor two-year-olds, as well as 15 hours of free care for all three and four-year-olds. Sir Michael Wilshaw said:

"Admissions policies should change to give the poorest children priority in securing places in reception at the best schools.

"But to get this priority, it would be on condition that they take up their funded early education place there at the school from the earliest age possible and attend regularly."

Watch: Structured learning 'doesn't seem like a bad idea'

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Tests for nursery school pupils: Your views

Schools regulator Ofsted has called for pupils as young as two to take part in more "structured" learning and pass basic tests.

Readers on Twitter were overwhelmingly against the move:

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@itvnews Anyone who knows the slightest thing about children will know that they learn best through play. Ridiculous testing so young.

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@itvnews #LetChildrenBeChildren through nursery. Maybe it's primary schools that need more attention?

What do you think? Join the debate by tweeting @itvnews or post your comments on our Facebook page

Young children 'learn best through structured play'

Ofsted needs to address the inconsistent quality of its inspections, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said, following a report that suggested more nursery education should be carried out in schools. Mary Bousted said:

[We] know from members and research that an overly formal and narrow academic curriculum at too young an age damages children's learning.

Although the chief inspector's remarks imply he doesn't understand, Ofsted inspectors need to understand that young children learn best through planned and structured play, talking, sustained shared thinking, by exploring real world experiences and in inspiring learning environments.

Labour: Structured learning 'doesn't seem like bad idea'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has told ITV News more "structured" play and learning in nursery schools "doesn't seem like a bad idea".

"I think we have to address this issue of disadvantaged children who aren't school ready by the time they turn up in reception year," Mr Hunt said.

Read: Ofsted suggests nurseries failing to get children ready for school

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