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SHEPHARD'S NEXT NURSERY STEPS SHOW 'PIGHEADEDNESS'

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The government's 'grandly titled' Next Steps announcement today on nursery vouchers is only half the story, says th...
The government's 'grandly titled' Next Steps announcement today on nursery vouchers is only half the story, says the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Graham Lane, who chairs the association's education committee said:

'The government is struggling along with its determined effort to shoot itself in the foot over early years education.

'Everyone involved with pre-school children has told the department for education and employment that its voucher scheme is unwelcome. Local education authorities have gone farther and said that the scheme could have devastating affects on existing nursery education for three year olds and four year olds being educated in schools.

'But this wilful government is determined to persist in its pigheadedness.

'Even so Next Steps only delivers half a story. There are practical issues about teacher/child ratios for example and publishing proposals to set up classes that are not addressed.

'But the major omission is any indication of how the scheme is going to be evaluated. And the opportunity has been lost to create a coherent single inspection framework to bring together Ofsted's role and the requirements of the Children Act. Fears will remain that new operators can be responsible for the care and education of three and four year olds for at least a year without any form of external inspection.

'So much needs to be done in this area. Working together to build on existing provision we could have achieved so much. As it is the government has opted out of the rational, cooperative approach to tackling the big challenges facing society. The results could be tragic.'

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