Memorandum from the National Union of
Teachers (EY 28)
1. The National Union of Teachers (NUT)
welcomes the decision of the Education Sub-Committee to conduct
an inquiry into "aspects of early years education".
In recent years developments in the provision of education and
care for young children have been rapid and the number of new
initiatives numerous. The inquiry offers an important opportunity
to review the impact of some of these initiatives. The NUT welcomes
the opportunity to submit evidence to the inquiry.
2. It is now widely accepted amongst politicians,
educationalists, the media and the public in general that spending
money on nursery education constitutes an investment in the future
which will bring about handsome returns. Established research
has long shown the benefits of nursery education and, in particular,
its contribution to raising achievement in disadvantaged areas
and to lessening the money later needed to remedy social problems.
3. The NUT is the largest organisation representing
qualified nursery/early years teachers. It has long been a leading
advocate of high quality nursery education. The NUT's view, and
this is shared by many others, is that only a high quality educational
experience will bring genuine benefits. If the Government is serious
about a long-term rise in standards and social inclusion for all
then it needs to prioritise high quality nursery education and
that means investing more in the training, education and employment
of qualified nursery teachers.
4. The NUT has supported the current Government's
partnership approach to expanding and improving the quality of
education and childcare provision for three and four year olds.
However, the NUT regards the "partnership" approach
as a developmental process. Continuous quality improvement must
be built into the expectations of the Government and existing
standards of high quality must not be lost. The NUT welcomes therefore,
the opportunity afforded by this inquiry to focus on early years
education as distinct from the provision of childcare.
5. According to the terms of reference,
the inquiry "will examine:
the appropriate content of early
years education, taking into account the recently published QCA
Early Learning Goals;
the way it should be taught;
the kind of staff that are needed
to teach it and the qualifications they should have;
the way quality of teaching and learning
in the early years is assessed; and
at what age formal schooling should
6. Each of the above headings are covered
by this submission which highlights a number of issues relating
to early years and then offers a response to each of the areas
specifically identified under the terms of reference of the inquiry.
Importance of High Quality Provision
7. The NUT has long campaigned for the provision
of high quality nursery education for all three and four year
olds and has long argued that high quality provision is best assured
by the full-time involvement of qualified teachers.
8. It is only high quality nursery education
which studies such as High Scope have shown to lead to later increased
levels of achievement by children; reduced criminal activity and
less dependence on welfare support in later life. Research has
shown that investment in high quality nursery education is repaid
many times over.
9. By "high quality", the Union
believes that all three and four year olds should be entitled
to a nursery education place which:
is taught by qualified teachers and
appropriately trained support staff;
has an appropriate curriculum which
provides for all children's individual learning needs to be met;
is in premises suitable to those
needs with sufficient teaching space, safe indoor and outdoor
play areas, and appropriate health and welfare facilities; and
offers an adult:child ratio of one
appropriately trained and qualified teacher and one qualified
nursery nurse to each 20 three and four year old children.
10. The existing quality assurance arrangements
are not adequate to ensure common standards across the current
range of providers eligible to receive funding for the education
of three and four year olds. A set of basic minimum standards
should be introduced against which all nursery education providers
would be inspected under arrangements determined by the DfEE.
These standards should include the quality indicators listed in
the previous paragraph and should apply to all institutions which
describe themselves as providing "nursery" or "early
11. Basic standards provide a more reliable
and long-term indicator of quality provision than a half-day snapshot
inspection of a nursery teacher or any other staff. They are also
quantifiable indicators by which parents can compare and thereby
make more meaningful and assured choices.
Importance of Qualified Teachers
12. The study, training, reflection and
teaching practice required to attain qualified teacher status,
which are assessed against demanding standards, provide the best
guarantee that all three and four year oldswhatever their
home circumstances and prior learningwill have their learning
needs met in an appropriate way.
13. Qualified teachers bring knowledge,
skills, experiences and attitudes which can assure parents that
their children's abilities, aptitudes and well-being will be developed
to the greatest extent which the available resources and facilities
allow. The full-time presence of a qualified teacher means that
learning opportunities will be exploited to the full within an
appropriate framework of teaching. Qualified teachers' knowledge
of child development and how children learn ensures that the activities
and experiences provided for young children are purposeful, relevant,
appropriate and informed by the expectations that those children
will meet during their subsequent schooling.
14. Parents should be able to expect the
same high quality provision wherever they live and whichever institution
their three or four year old attends for their education. The
basis for that equality of opportunity should be that where provision
is designated as "education", children are taught by
a qualified teacher who is responsible for the provision of an
appropriate curriculum; the assessment of each child's attainment
and progress; and reporting to parents. Overall, staff:child ratios,
as well as premises and facilities, should also be subject to
common minimum standards. Without such standards being universally
available, parental choice has little meaning.
15. One of the strategic quality principles
set out in the DfEE planning guidance for Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships (EYD&CPs) is that "a qualified
teacher should be involved in all settings providing early years
education within an Early Years Development and Childcare Plan".
In many areas issues such as low teacher supply and limited budgets
mean that planning for proper involvement (i.e. full-time involvement)
of a qualified early years teacher in every setting is proving
difficult for Partnerships. Partnerships are an engine for change,
however, and should work together with the local authority and
teacher training institutions to develop high quality training
and recruitment programmes to increase the supply of qualified
early years teachers in the local area.
16. The Select Committee should recommend
that the next round of plans by Early Years Development and Childcare
Partnerships should be required to show how, over time, all provision
designated and funded as education for three and four year olds
will be taught by a qualified teacher. Government investment should
increase incrementally to allow that target to be met.
Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes
17. LEA maintained nursery schools provide
the best examples of high quality nursery education. Local education
authority nursery schools are staffed by qualified teachers and
nursery nurses, who work together as a team to develop high quality
provision which meets children's needs for combined care and education.
These nursery schools are led by a headteacher who understands
the needs of young children and their families and should be held
up as examples of high quality education to which all providers
18. The following points highlight why free-standing
nursery schools are important to young children, their families,
practitioners and the local authority.
Maintained nursery schools are usually
purpose built, with good facilities for outdoor play and all the
staff focus on the particular needs of children aged 3-5. They
offer an environment which is small in scale and which provides
a secure setting for children being cared for outside the home
for the first time.
Nursery schools provide high quality,
early education without charge, which is important for all childrenespecially
for those with special educational needs.
Nursery school staff are able to
resist external pressure to teach the children in unsuitable ways
because their work is based on firm principles of early childhood
education and because they support each other. The curriculum
offered includes many opportunities which experienced staff are
able to relate effectively to the National Curriculum.
Many nursery schools cater flexibly
for the needs of families, showing an awareness of the need for
responsive admissions policies and flexible patterns of attendance.
They provide rich opportunities for parental involvement.
Free-standing nursery schools are
centres for the study of young children providing unique opportunities
for professional development. They offer a career structure to
those wishing to specialise in nursery education and, therefore,
attract the most experienced staff.
They are centres of excellence for
those working in other forms of provision and, therefore, have
a role to play in raising the quality of all services for young
children. They also offer unique training placements to a wide
range of professionals and others concerned with young children,
eg health visitors, speech therapists, educational psychologists
and work experience students.
Nursery headteachers are needed to
act as specialists in nursery education, offering advice to Partnerships,
councillors, education officers and their primary colleagues on
policy and curriculum issues.
19. The excellence of nursery schools and
classes maintained by local education authorities is highlighted
by the latest report from the DfEE funded Effective Provision
of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project published by the Institute
20. Despite this, a small number of nursery
schools have closed since the election of this Government, and
a more significant number have been considered for closure. That
is unacceptable. The threat to free-standing nursery schools is
perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the inadequacy of current
levels of funding for three and four year olds. But it is also
indicative of the short-termism that can prevail when political
targets appear to drive the expansion and development of services
rather than the needs of the community to be served.
21. Importantly a significant number of
nursery schools are situated in areas of social and economic deprivation
in towns and cities across Britain. The closure of nursery schools
contradicts the Government's stated commitment regarding quality
provision for young children and their families and is at odds
with initiatives which aim to support children from disadvantaged
backgrounds, such as Sure Start.
22. The Government has set LEAs, through
the Early Years Development & Childcare Partnerships (EYDCP),
a target of establishing nursery education places for 66 per cent
of three year oldswith an emphasis on high social need.
LEAs should receive additional grant funding for every "newly
eligible" three year old taken into maintained provision
(as well as grant funding for every four year old). So why are
some LEAs apparently unable to continue to subsidise the more
costly, but higher quality, form of provision in nursery schools?
Four Year Olds in Reception Classes
23. The NUT has said consistently that where
four year olds are in reception classes, "nursery conditions"
should prevail. Its recommendation is that where, as an interim
measure, four year olds are in reception classes, there should
be groups of no more that 23 children taught by a qualified teacher
and a qualified nursery nurse.
24. The NUT recognises that in the current
situation a significant number of four year olds are in reception
classes which are not staffed in accordance with that recommendation.
25. Over sized and under-staffed classes
make if very difficult for reception teachers to provide an appropriate
curriculum. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of reception
teachers are doing a very good job with all their pupils. Their
training as qualified teachers enables them to manage and motivate
their pupils; consequently, the education provision in reception
classes compares very favourably with settings where qualified
teachers are not present.
26. In the medium term, it is vital that
the Government's funding of education for three and four year
olds is increased to allow all three and four year old children
to be taught in nursery conditions.
27. In 1998 research conducted by Peter
Tymms, Durham University on "Performance Indicators in Primary
Schools" found that children "made enormous progress
during their first year in reception"even young four
year olds. His research contradicts growing media opinion against
placing very young children in reception classes; Dr Tymms' research
supports the argument that the presence of a qualified teacher
does make a difference.
28. Peter Tymms' research shows the presence
of a qualified teacher can often overcome the negative influences
of oversized classes and inappropriate premises. Private and voluntary
providers are not required to ensure that four year olds are taught
full-time by qualified teachers. Where qualified teachers are
not present (whatever the number of children per adult and however
suitable the premises) the learning needs of four year olds are
less likely to be met.
29. Young children develop intellectually,
socially, emotionally and physically more rapidly during the first
five or six years of their lives than during any subsequent period.
Positive learning and educational experiences during this crucial
period of growth form the foundations of the understanding, knowledge,
skills and attitudes which are essential for each child's future
wellbeing and development.
30. Any early years curriculum guidelines
should give a strong emphasis to children being encouraged, firstly,
to make choices concerning activities, resources and materials,
and who they work and play with; and secondly, to follow up their
own ideas and aspirations. Children's needs and interests should
be a basic starting point for teaching and learning.
31. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the
Macpherson Report highlighted the need for all providers to recognise
that prejudice and discrimination exists in all parts of our society.
This is further backed up by other research which highlights the
learning of negative attitudes towards "difference"
by very young children [Milner, "Children and Race"].
Those responsible for nursery education must address these issues
in a positive and constructive way. Children through their varied
experiences will have already perceived and formed opinions about
the society in which they live before attending nursery provision.
Any curriculum for young children should aim to challenge negative
attitudes and stereotypes and help children begin to challenge
racist and other discriminatory attitudes for themselves. All
children must feel equally "at home" if they are to
have equal opportunities to learn and pursue their interests.
32. Any curriculum guidance for young children
should emphasise the importance of the special needs of pupils
being identified early and the opportunity for an appropriate
curriculum to be offered to them.
33. The establishment of a distinct foundation
stage for children aged three to the end of the reception year
has been welcomed by early years teachers. It offers the potential
for consistency and continuity in children's learning between
the ages of three and six. However, it is essential that any guidance
relating to a foundation stage does not suggest that the processes
involved in teaching and learning in relation to young children
34. The NUT has stated consistently that
it would be opposed to the introduction of a foundation stage
if such a proposal was considered alongside:
any threat to the status, pay and
conditions of service of early years teachers; and/or
proposals to change existing legislation
regarding compulsory school age.
35. The introduction of a foundation stage
must aim to raise standards throughout all settings and sectors.
There must be no overt or covert intention to "hive off"
early years education from the rest of primary education; such
an approach would not be in the best interests of young children.
36. Qualifications, experience and access
to in-service training for staff vary between providers. A coherent
stage offers the opportunity to develop a common approach across
all settings and to establish some consistency in the training
and qualifications for those working with young children.
QCA Early Learning Goals
37. In general, the NUT has welcomed the
Early Learning Goals document and the proposals for more detailed
guidance on effective teaching and learning strategies throughout
the foundation stage. The strong emphasis on personal, social
and emotional development and the "top billing" that
this area of learning is given in the document is particularly
38. Qualified and experienced nursery and
reception teachers will find it relatively easy to interpret the
bullet-point statements relating to the early learning goals for
children at the end of the reception year. They will be able to
use them as a framework in order to develop a broad and balanced
curriculum specifically suited to the developmental needs of young
children at three, four and five. However, the absence of a requirement,
currently, that all providers of early years education employ
qualified staffand in particular full-time qualified teacherscoupled
with the limited resources available for training means there
is a danger that unqualified, inexperienced staff will view the
"goal" statements as a complete curriculum.
39. One of the main criticisms of the National
Literacy Strategy has been the inappropriateness of the structured
methodology of the Literacy Hour in reception classes. The NUT
is concerned that the section of the QCA document relating to
literacy may increase pressure on nursery schools and classes
to adopt the "literacy hour" as part of a curriculum
for children as young as three. Where interpreted by unqualified
and inexperienced staff in other pre-school settings the use of
such a prescriptive, over-formal methodology could be devastating
for young children.
An Over-Formal Curriculum
40. There is a cache of research evidence that
shows that the early years of a child's life are fundamental in
shaping a child's developmental progression. The critical early
months and years when a child enters the pre-school and school
systems are fundamentally formative in terms of setting patterns
of their future progress.
41. All children should be entitled to attain
literacy and numeracy skills as early as possible, however, the
curriculum and pedagogy is crucial. On the basis of a bank of
research evidence, such as the Perry Pre-school/High Scope Project
in the USA, the NUT believes that a "too formal" approach
"too soon" is potentially damaging to the future achievement
of young children. Playwell planned, well structured active
experiential activities in which children have a sense of control
and enjoymentis fundamental to effective early learning.
There is a need for balancea curriculum should meet the
physical, social and emotional needs of children as well as their
academic needs. Recent debate has led to a dangerous polarisation
of views regarding the different ways of learning.
42. The Union rejects polarisation between
play-based and structured learning. Those with expertise and direct
experience of teaching young children recognise the importance
of considering how children learn best and select teaching methods
and approaches which best fit the purpose.
43. "Play-based teaching and learning"
describes well what the most effective early years teachers do.
They recognise that children learn best when the activities and
opportunities offered to and provided for them are interesting,
relevant and motivating.
Changes to the Statutory School-Age
44. Concern over a too formal curriculum
for young children leads to calls for a raising of the statutory
school-age to six or seven as is the case in many European, particularly
Scandinavian, countries. The NUT believes that there should be
no change to compulsory school age.
45. Whilst the Scandinavian model for the
provision of early childhood education is undoubtedly of a very
high standard there would be no benefit brought about by simply
changing one aspect of the system in Britain. In fact there is
a grave danger that any proposal to raise the compulsory school
age from five to six could be seen as an opportunity to reduce
investment in early years education. Consequently less children
would be entitled by law to receive full-time education and would
be less likely to have access to high quality early years teaching
46. In many European countries where children
are not required to attend school until six or seven early years
teachers have lower status and are paid less than those teaching
47. The introduction of the foundation stage
will mean that the National Curriculum will not start until the
beginning of Year 1 and a change to the compulsory school age
is not necessary. It is vital that an over-formal curriculum is
not confused with entry to primary school.
48. At the time of the QCA consultation
on the Early Learning Goals the NUT sought the views of its members
with regard to the QCA proposals. One experienced early years
teacher made the following comments:
"By focussing on what children should know
by the age of five, and not addressing issues about the way young
children learn, there is a real danger that people in charge of
educating under fives will attempt to force them into performing
tasks that are developmentally inappropriate for them. Already
in some private nurseries, children as young as two are made to
complete worksheets to show parents that they are learning their
letters and numbers; if they can't do them, they are "helped"
by poorly trained staff. This kind of practice, so irrelevant
to the educational needs of the youngest child, will only increase
unless the Government pays just as much attention to providing
suitably well equipped play environments and well qualified staff
as it does to educational goals.
I recently underwent an OFSTED inspection in
my nursery class and was left with the impression that the early
years specialist inspector wanted me to introduce greater formality
in my teaching methods. It was not explained to me why or how
I should do this. I was left in confusion, as I have been successfully
working in early years education for 20 years, and have never
had my basic approach criticised."
49. If the Early Learning Goals are linked
to inspection criteria (as are the current Desirable Learning
Outcomes) there is a danger that a narrow, over-formalised curriculum
in nursery schools and classes will be encouraged. In settings
where staff have had little or no training they are likely to
lead to a narrow didactic approach to the education of young children.
50. As emphasised throughout this submission
the NUT believes that high quality early years provision is best
assured by the full-time involvement of qualified teachers.
51. Qualified teachers, through their training,
understanding of how learning is
affected by childrens' physical, intellectual, emotional and social
knowledge and understanding of the
National Curriculum and awareness of the importance of progression
and continuity between stages;
knowledge and experience of planning
and implementing a relevant and appropriate curriculum;
knowledge of links between subjects
and understanding of the importance of coherence in the curriculum;
awareness of assessment techniques
and processes, including baseline assessment procedures, which
inform teaching and learning;
skills in motivating children and
applying appropriate rewards and sanctions;
recognition of the importance that
must be given to equality issues in order to ensure that each
child feels equally valued, has positive self esteem, respects
others and has equal access to learning;
knowledge of special educational
needs and their identification;
access to a range of teaching methods
to cater for the different learning needs of children and the
varying demands of curriculum;
the commitment to promote understanding,
not just "a road to learning";
understanding of good classroom management
and expertise in organising groups of young children around a
particular learning focus;
knowledge of "school" and
the expectations that children will experience; and
a shared language with other teachers
which facilitates the reporting of achievement and liaison between
52. Qualified teacher status (QTS) means
that a certain standard in each of these attributes has been reached.
That provides the best guarantee to children, parents and other
colleagues of high quality education. Other early years workers
bring different attributes; they do not bring this comprehensive
range of knowledge, skills, understanding and experience essential
to high quality teaching and learning.
A Qualifications and Training Framework
53. The NUT welcomed the Government's commitment
to give status and coherence to the training and qualifications
of non-teacher early years workers. The NUT welcomed the idea
of a "climbing frame" approach intended to help people
enter, move and progress in the early years sectorso long
as this widening of access to training and qualifications does
not undermine high standards and quality where they already existsuch
as in initial teacher training and education.
54. The NUT's response to the QCA consultation
on a draft framework of qualifications and training in the early
years stated that "It must be acknowledged that such developments
will only bring real benefits if they are underpinned by moves
to introduce greater coherence and rationale to the salary structure
and conditions of service applying to those occupational groups
affected by the `climbing frame' of training opportunities."
55. The Union believes that adult:child
ratios can legitimately vary on the basis of the adult's training
and qualifications. All implications must be considered in setting
staffing ratios (which are desirable) so that quality is not "priced
out". Obviously, nursery teachers would be highly effective
with groups of, say, eight children but it would be unlikely that
the funding would be available to create such small teaching groups.
The NUT recognises the financial limits to setting ratios and
accepts there may need to be a certain degree of flexibility in
doing so with the caveat that all education sessions should involve
the full-time involvement of a qualified teacher.
56. In the Summer Term 1997, the NUT conducted
a survey of nursery classes in maintained nursery schools and
primary schools in England and Wales. This found that around 29
per cent of nursery teaching sessions had a staffing ratio of
one teacher and one qualified nursery nurse to 20 children or
less. A quarter had staffing ratios worse than the current DfEE
57. The normal pattern of part-time nursery
education is of children attending school for either five morning
or five afternoon sessions during each week. This means that teachers
have responsibility for two groups of children every day. The
survey showed that a majority of nursery teachers are, therefore,
required to plan the curriculum, assess learning, record attainment
and communicate with parents for over 50 individual children.
58. This evidence illustrates the need for
the Government to set legal limits to staff:child ratios rather
than simply recommend ratios under guidance. Minimum staffing
standards would help ensure equality of opportunity for nursery
age children wherever they live and whichever type of provision
they attend. Minimum staffing standards are particularly important
to assure quality of provision within local Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships.
59. The NUT recognises the financial and
practical challenges posed by the setting of minimum limits to
adult:child ratios given the current diversity of provision. A
staged timetable for implementation of adult:child ratios will
be necessary in order to avoid undermining the existing quality
and to safeguard existing high quality provision. For this reason,
the Union believes that adult:child ratios must be related to
60. In its response to the DfEE/DOH consultation
on the Regulation of Early Education and Day Care in July 1998,
the NUT called upon the Government to require all early years
settings which employ qualified teachers to comply with the adult:child
ratios as set out in DfEE Circular 2/73 and that such a requirement
should include reception classes where there is provision for
four year olds. The Union said that the Government should make
additional resources available to allow local authorities to meet
these requirements as rapidly as possible. The Government has
now made available £30 million over two years to employ 3,000
"additional adults" to reduce adult:child ratios to
1:15 in reception classes in 60 local education authorities. This
has, therefore, been welcomed by the Union as a first step. The
Union believes that "additional adults" should mean
the employment of NNEBs or equivalent qualified nursery nurses.
This initiative should be extended to all local education authorities.
61. The Government's acceptance of the importance
of qualifications in setting ratios implicit in the proposal to
allow 50 private and voluntary providers "who meet the requirements
of employing a qualified teacher and a qualified nursery assistant"
a ratio of 2:26 is also welcome.
62. Where qualified teachers are not employed,
the 1:8 ratio as recommended under the Children Act should be
made statutory. All staff should have access to training and professional
development opportunities. All providers should be encouraged
to employ, where possible, highly trained and qualified staff
to work with young children.
Other Staffing Considerations
63. Staff are the most valuable resource
for any institution. All appointment procedures should be on the
basis of concise and realistic job descriptions. This is especially
important in integrated settingswhere a range of people
with different training and qualifications are working alongside
one another and are expected to co-operate. Each person's role
and responsibilities must be clearly understood by themselves
and all other staff.
64. In all settings where education is provided,
a headteacher or an experienced early years teacher with the responsibility
points should be appointed as head of the unit. The School Teachers'
Pay and Conditions Document should apply to all staff employed
as teachers in the provision of nursery education.
65. Each member of staff should be allowed
a fair and transparent salary structure and conditions of service.
Each member of staff should be aware of the career opportunities
available and have an entitlement to induction and ongoing in-service
training and education.
66. There should be strict procedures and
checks, including criminal record checks, to ensure the protection
and welfare of children. These procedures should be transparent
and consistent across all settings and aim to guarantee the safety
and well-being for children.
67. The NUT believes that the inspection
of all early years education provision should be based on the
following common principles.
All forms of provision for young
children should be subject to the same rigorous system of regulation
The main focus of the external inspection
should be on whether or not an institution has effective systems
and procedures for self-evaluation and improvement.
There should be common standards
for staffing, premises (indoor and outdoor), the curriculum, health
and safety etc against which all providers of education are inspected.
Making judgements about provision
should be a corporate activity and, therefore, one inspector acting
alone is not satisfactory.
All inspectors should be appropriately
qualified and have significant early years experience.
68. It is the view of the NUT that the inspection
system should be re-thoughtneither the existing "Section
10" OFSTED system of inspection for maintained schools nor
the "Section 5" Registered Nursery Inspector System
are appropriate. The latest proposals for the establishment of
a new and distinct arm of OFSTED, the "Early Years Directorate",
now means that the responsibility for the regulation of all forms
of provision for young children will fall under the authority
of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools. However, the NUT
is concerned that such arrangements could lead to the alienation
of teachers and other practitioners from the process of quality
assurance and evaluation as it has in statutory school education.
69. The achievement of reliable and consistent
judgements is even less likely if inspections are undertaken by
one person. A requirement for inspections to be undertaken by
an inspection team (or a pair of inspectors) is just as likely
to be welcomed by the inspectors themselves as it would be by
providers of early years education.
70. The most productive form of inspection
is one whereby the inspector understands the processes at work
and there is a clear link to advice. Those being inspected must
respect the judgements being made. Where such understanding is
not present, on the one hand, the inspector's judgements may lack
relevance in credibility, while on the other, the wool may be
pulled over the eyes of the inspector. The composition of inspection
teams must, therefore, be suitableie, the qualifications,
training and experience of the inspectors themselves should be
appropriate to the provision being inspected.
71. The integrated provision of education
and care is highly desirable. It is obviously of considerable
benefit for young children and their parents if the services which
they need are available "under one roof" and interlinked
as seamlessly as possible. In practice, however, "education"
and "care" have distinct traditions which should be
recognised, equally respected and further developed. A regulatory
framework must seek to enhance the qualities associated with each
tradition and must not result in provision which is based on little
more than the lowest common denominator.
72. It is a truism that effective education
is most likely when pupils feel safe, their self esteem is high
and they have a strong sense of well-being. In other words, successful
teaching is associated with a caring environment. Similarly, when
good quality care is provided for a child, opportunities for learning
will inevitably arise.
73. Nevertheless, the underpinning aims,
expectations, and motivations of the teacher and the carer remain
different. The teacher's principal aim is to promote learning
by effectively teaching knowledge, skills and understandings which
the curriculum determines. Learning is planned, not incidental.
Teachers have a body of knowledge and skills which they are charged
with transmitting. The carer's principal aim is to promote and
maintain the safety and well-being of a childif learning
comes out of it, that is a benefit not a requirement. Learning
is incidentalessentially, the child is in the lead. Effective
carers have a range of skills and understandings, developed by
their training, which enable them to support children in fulfilling
their own agendas, needs and aspirations. This comparison is not
intended to suggest a hierarchical relationship between education
and care but rather to emphasise its distinction that needs to
be recognised if quality is to be maintained and improved.
74. Education and childcare are of equal
importance to young children and their parents. Both should be
accorded equal status against those measures which have priority
in our society. However, in considering how they can best be provided
and how high quality can be assured, the NUT believes it is important
to recognise the distinct traditions associated with "education"
75. The desire for greater integration in
terms of the availability and accessibility of services to young
children and their parents must not be interpreted as requiring
a merger of those traditions.
76. The terms "education" and
"care" have different definitions; different training,
education requirements and qualifications; and should have different
emphases and priorities in their delivery. Teachers are continually
identifying opportunities to maximise learning, assess developmental
needs and recognise opportunities for direct teaching. Carers,
on the other hand, emphasise immediate well-being and different,
sometimes wider, aspects of development.
77. High quality education is underpinned
by good standards of care. Good quality care inevitably leads
to opportunities for learning. Integration must focus on easier
access to services, not lead to a compromise in terms of provision
in which the strengths of neither care or education are apparent.
Training and qualifications within each "tradition"
should, over time, acquire equal status but they should also maintain
their different if complementary emphases.
National Union of Teachers
4 "Technical Paper 6a: Characteristics of Pre-School
Environments" Institute of Education September 1999-a report
from the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project
a longitudinal study funded by the DfEE 1997-2003. Back