Excellence centres come out on top

    Any type of pre-school education is better for intellectual and
    social development than none at all, research published last week

    But a report, by the Institute of Education and Birkbeck College in
    London and the University of Oxford, finds that children at
    government early excellence centres, which offer combined education
    and child care, make greater intellectual and social progress than
    those at private nurseries.

    Possible reasons highlighted in the report include private
    nurseries having a higher turnover of staff than other settings and
    their staff being younger and less qualified.

    The long-term research, which looked at all types of pre-school
    child care and covered 3,000 children aged three and four from 141
    centres, also finds that the activities 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 report
    author Edward Melhuish.

    High quality pre-school education can also reduce social exclusion,
    the research shows.

    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, including health, education, child
    care and parenting support, to improve the provision of pre-school

    – The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE)
    Technical Paper 8b
    from www.ioe.ac.uk/projects/eppe

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