Early Education Transformed

Early Education Transformed

Early Education Transformed

Early Education Transformed


This book examines the field of early childhood and education. It aims to provide a strong foundation of knowledge about aspects of early years education, by summarizing the status and outlining paths of development for now and the future.


It is entirely appropriate, as the millennium approaches, to look back at early years education as well as forwards. We all recognize that good preschool education gives lasting educational and social benefits for children. There is valuable experience and practice on which to draw to ensure that these benefits are available for all children. The government made clear in Excellence in Schools (1997) that it attaches high priority to making these benefits available to all children, particularly those who are disadvantaged. One of its standards for the new millennium is that all children should have the best possible start in life. This includes childcare of high quality, whether in the hands of parents or carers. The integration of early education, daycare and family services is actively encouraged.

The new Early Years and Childcare Development Plans are tackling our historically low levels of participation. Thanks to the efforts of Partnerships and many nursery schools, preschools, playgroups and other providers, supported by special funding, all 4-year-olds now have access to good quality part-time nursery education for three terms at age 4. The government believes that these and other objectives for early education are best met by cooperation and collaboration between the maintained, private and voluntary sectors, so that we pool and develop our strengths and assist parental choice.

A number of important initiatives will start to bear fruit as we move into the new millennium. Following its comprehensive spending review, the government has undertaken to double the participation rate for 3-year-olds in nursery education from 34 per cent to 66 per cent by 2002. New funding of some £400 million will secure 190,000 new places.

The Sure Start programme for 0-3s is another product of the comprehensive spending review. An inter-departmental Children’s Fund of £540 million will support the focusing of healthcare, educational, childcare and other resources on meeting the needs of young children and families in areas of disadvantage. Also this year, Ministers announced the national childcare strategy to support families and children. This too has substantial new funding, and depends on a host of partners working together, principally through enhanced Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships. The strategy is a major plank in the government’s plans for tackling social exclusion, poverty and economic development.

A number of other measures are being taken to improve early years services. OFSTED inspections will continue to support the work of registered providers. The

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