Early Learning Programme Flops

Nursery education is meant to be one of the most cost effective ways of raising overall attainment. Head start, flying start, whatever snappy name the lobbyists and politicos hang on it, it's money well spent.

So you can understand why Labour has pumped money in, launching a raft of programmes and extending free nursery education to all three-year olds. So far it's cost us £21bn.

The trouble is, it's flopped.

New research from Durham University's Curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre reveals that children's development and skills as they enter primary school are no different today than they were in 2000. No progress at all.

Naturally the government's response is to shrug it off. Minister for Children Beverley Hughes (the one who was forced to resign from the Home Office over the scandal of visas being issued on false papers) says:

"Early indications are that this investment is improving outcomes for children. However, as the author of this report acknowledges, it is still too early to measure this with any great authority."

I'm just listening to the author of the report on BBC R4 Today. She actually says we should have seen some measurable changes by now, and we haven't.

So what's gone wrong?

Nobody seems quite sure, but I think we can guess:
    • Great Leap Forward- this is yet another top-down plan imposed from above- eg the boilerplate early childhood curriculum
    • Social engineering disguised as education
    • Unintended consequences- we already know Sure Start has been a disaster, making life worse for the most disadvantaged kids (eg see this blog)


There are no changes in prospect: as always, the Commissars' response to inconvenient evidence is to press on regardless. Just like Stalingrad.

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