New education centres help children achieve better results than private nurseries

Children achieve better results if they attend integrated
childcare and education centres maintained by the government than
private nurseries, according to a new report, writes
Amy Taylor.

The research, by a team from the Institute of Education and
Birbeck College, both part of the University of London, and the
University of Oxford, found that children at government early
excellence centres, which offer combined education and childcare,
achieved a higher level of progress than those at private

Possible reasons highlighted in the report include private
nurseries having a higher turnover of staff than other settings and
their staff being significantly younger. The rarity of teachers
within private nurseries was also cited as a contributory factor,
with the research finding that the higher the qualifications of
staff the more progress the children make.

The study, which looked at all types of pre-school childcare and
covered 3,000 children aged three and four from 141 centres
selected at random, found that any type of pre-school experience
enhances intellectual and social development compared to none at

It also identified that high quality pre-school education can
reduce social exclusion and that the activities which parents do
with their children at home are significantly more important than
the qualifications they possess. “What parents do is more important
than who they are,” said Edward Melhuish, one of the authors of the

The government is currently developing a national network of
children’s centres, under the Sure Start programme, which will
offer a range of services to families covering health, education,
childcare and parenting support to improve the provision of
pre-school services.

‘The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE)
Technical Paper 8b’ from

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