Memorandum from Rosemary W Peacocke (EY
Thank you for sending me the information about the
Early Years Education Inquiry. I am delighted that the Select
Committee is following its intention in the conclusion of its
1994 report to keep the subject of educational provision for the
under-fives under review.
There are four major issues which I wish to
1. I welcome the new "Early Learning
Goals". Children learn through first hand experience, play,
talking and listening, and all these are given due weight. Early
Education is an important phase in itself and not merely a preparation
for something else (as was stated in a predecessor committee in
1988-89, paragraph 2.13.) The goals described are appropriate
for any setting working towards quality provision and are not
over prescriptive, or geared to the needs of the next phase. Children
develop as individuals and should not be forced to proceed at
any particular prescribed rate.
2. It is a serious omission that very little
attention is paid to spiritual development. It receives a brief
mention under "Personal social and emotional development"
but later on page 21, in the list of "Early learning goals",
there is no mention of the important elements of mystery, awe,
wonder and delight which children experience in the natural world,
and through the media of music, drama and the visual arts. The
national curriculum is concerned with all these areas in primary
and secondary education, and recognise their importance; in the
early years the foundations are laid for these crucial experiences
and they need a place in this document.
3. Qualified early years teachers are the
best staff to teach young children, assisted by nursery nurses.
This is a direct answer to your straight question, but I would
be happy to expand on this answer at length if you wish me to
4. I welcome the new foundation stage, but
believe strongly that formal schooling should remain at five years
of age. The reason it should not be raised to six is because there
are insufficient qualified teachers of young children to ensure
that every child will have the best foundation possible. There
would be a very real danger that the settings without qualified
teachers would admit children from four to six, until compulsory
Please get in touch with me if you would like
any further information about my brief response.
Rosemary W Peacocke
Former HMI,Staff Inspector for the education
of Young Children