Thursday, 28 March 2013

Leading researchers warn that government proposals will "lead to an unintended reduction in quality"

Four of the country's leading researchers into early education have produced a detailed analysis of the proposals in More Great Childcare, which they have evaluated against the best available evidence.

Naomi Eisenstadt, Professor Kathy Sylva, Sandra Mathers (University of Oxford) and Brenda Taggart (Institute of Education, London) applaud the aims and ambition of the government proposals. But they are sceptical, and suggest that they are most likely to "lead to an unintended reduction in quality".

Their review of the proposals speaks for itself [PDF] so I won't quote too much from what they say. But here are a few salient points:

  • For babies and toddlers, ratios were much more important for quality than were staff qualifications. Therefore, relaxing ratios for this age group will lead to a reduction in quality; and improving qualifications would not lessen the impact.
  • The introduction of a new qualification - the ‘Early Years Teacher’ - to replace existing Early Years Professionals (EYPs) will not necessarily enhance the status of those working with young children because they will not have comparable training, or Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and will not be eligible for teacher pay and conditions. They will simply be second class ‘teachers’.
  • "very worrying are proposals to reduce the quality improvement role currently offered by local authorities (LAs). This may lead to a direct reduction in quality as currently local authorities do far more than simply ‘inspect’ quality."

Overall, the tone of this paper is even-handed and sober, determinedly non-ideological.

For me, the message is clear: there is no serious evidence to support most of the government proposals. More Great Childcare is nothing more than a reckless gamble with the wellbeing, development and futures of our youngest children.

Read more of my posts on the More Great Childcare proposals:

Professor Denise Hevey's comments on More Great Childcare

Can we afford not to provide high quality early education and care? Cathy Nutbrown responds to More Great Childcare

When is a teacher not a teacher?

Liz Truss on ratios and qualifications - an ill-considered announcement

Elizabeth Truss and nursery ratios: why there is no case for change