Pre-school policies ‘lack impact’

 BBC News 28 August 2007
A  string of government policies aimed at boosting pre-school children’s educational achievement in England has had no impact, research suggests. Children’s vocabulary, ability to count and name shapes when they start school are no better than they were six years ago, a study of 35,000 children claims. The Durham University research covered such policies as the expansion of free part-time nursery places. Ministers say high quality childcare can boost children’s school performance. Early years education has been a government priority – with ?21bn invested since 1997 – and the research covered initiatives such as free nursery places for three and four-year-olds and the roll-out of Sure Start children’s centres. It also covers the introduction of the Every Child Matters policy which aims to provide more support for the welfare of children. The government has invested over ?21bn on early years and childcare services since 1997Researchers at Durham University’s Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre used a series of tests to evaluate children’s vocabulary skills and their ability to do simple maths like suggesting which object is taller than the other. They looked at how about 6,000 four and five-year-olds in 124 primary schools performed in the tests (known as Pips – performance indicators in primary school) in each of the six years of the study.Taking in factors like the number of children with English as a second language and those on free school meals, it found that therewas no change in the children’s performance in the tests over the period 2001 to 2006.