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Childcare minister urges nurseries to do more to help children ‘develop important skills’ for school

Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah, has called on nurseries to do more to make sure children make good progress in their pre-school years, after new figures showed too few children are ready for school.

The figures show 60 per cent of children aged five are making good progress against the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP). However, the gap between those from the most disadvantaged areas and their peers has remained the same at 12 per cent.

The EYFSP, which is meant to ensure that all children are prepared and ready for school, measures things like how children play together through to being able to count to 10 and write their own name.

Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We know the first few years of a child’s life can be make or break in terms of how well they go on to do at school and beyond. The statistics published clearly show that some progress is being made but more must be done to ensure children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are put on the right path.

“Parents need to be confident that while their children are out of their care they’re not only safe, happy and having fun but at the same time developing important skills like playing confidently with their friends, speaking, and understanding words, letters and numbers.”

He added: “The Government has provided new funding through the early years pupil premium and strengthened qualifications to raise standards. It’s now up to those who support our children to ensure they get the start in life they deserve - something parents and I both want to see.”

The EYFSP statistics show that 53 per cent of children in the most deprived areas achieved a good level of development compared with 65 per cent of their peers. A total of 66 per cent of children achieved at least the expected level of development in literacy and 72 per cent in mathematics. They also revealed that girls continue to outperform boys with 69 per cent of girls achieving a good level of development compared with 52 per cent of boys - particularly in writing.

Nicola Amies, director of Early Years at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a leading nursery chain, said in response that she would like to see more “collective sharing of wise practice across the sector” in order to improve children’s development in their pre-school years.

She said: “All providers want the best for the children in their care. We understand the value of continuous quality improvement with strong, inspirational leadership that embeds a culture of critical reflection and ongoing professional development for staff, and that sets high expectations for children’s experiences and progress.

“Collaborative working across the sector can make a significant impact on the journey we are all on to give young children the best foundations for success in life.”

The DfE highlighted The Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary (EPPSE) research, which showed the benefit of high-quality early education, revealing that children who go to pre-school are projected to earn £27,000 more during their career than those who don’t. They are also more likely to get better GCSE results - the equivalent of getting 7 Bs compared to 7 Cs.

The Early years foundation stage profile results: 2013 to 2014 can be found here:

November 2014