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News Release 24Dec 2010

New report re-affirms importance of teachers in Nursery Education

High quality nursery education is essential for the early educational development of young children, according to the findings of a new research report commissioned by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS). The report also highlights the vital importance of proper teacher involvement in the nursery setting, particularly as Scotland moves to a new seamless 3-18 model under the Curriculum for Excellence.

The new research report, prepared by independent consultant and academic George MacBride, pulls together and reviews all the relevant research to examine current provision of nursery education provision across Scotland and to make recommendations on future best practice for pre-5 education across the country.

Commenting on the publication of the new Report, EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith said, "This new report examines all the relevant research evidence and comes to a clear conclusion that a high quality nursery education provides young children with the best start in life. Having the opportunity to benefit from a high-quality, age appropriate early educational experience gives our very young children a head-start to their lifelong learning journey and provides them with the best opportunity to achieve their potential later in life.”

Mr Smith continued, "Across Scotland, teachers are working to implement the new Curriculum for Excellence in our classrooms. This offers an enhanced learning experience for young people of all ages, supported by the move to a seamless curricular model from age 3 to age 18. However, this change means that it becomes even more important for an appropriate level of teacher involvement in all nursery settings."

"Without teachers in all nursery schools and nursery classes, there is the risk that this important early stage of Curriculum for Excellence will start to unravel which will cause greater difficulties for children and their teachers once they reach primary school. It is essential that we get this first stage of CfE right, which means that teachers must be involved to ensure a quality educational experience for all young children.”

Amongst the findings outlined in the new Report are that there must be recognition that high-quality universal pre-five education has strong benefits for both children and wider society. The Report calls for the rights of the child to be placed at the centre of future debate on the provision of pre-5 education, and for the current low levels of investment in pre-5 education to be increased.

The report also raises serious questions about the pedagogue model, and states that many of the arguments which support this model are based on ill-informed stereotypes and generalisations on the role of teachers and other staff in nursery education.

The Report’s findings are based upon a review of all relevant research evidence, both national and international, including the findings of the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) report, the Millennium Cohort Study, the EPPI review and the HMIE’s Report The Key Role of Staff in Providing Quality Pre-School Education.

Ronnie Smith added, "The EIS commissioned this Research Report as we wished to pull together all the available evidence on the provision of nursery education so that an informed view could be taken on the best way forward for early years education provision. The overwhelming conclusion that can be drawn from the existing research is that early exposure to a quality educational experience in the nursery setting brings a whole host of benefits to young children."

"The weight of evidence also supports the belief that employing the skills and leadership of qualified teachers remains the best way to ensure a quality educational experience in all nursery settings.”

Mr Smith added, "As the report itself states, highlighting the importance of quality nursery education led by fully qualified teachers is of paramount importance at a time when Government – Westminster, Holyrood and local authority – are planning massive cuts to education expenditure. The EIS believes that the route out of the current economic crisis lies in quality education provision for all our young people."

"This must start with our youngest children and their entitlement to access high quality nursery education provision, no matter where they live and no matter what their personal and social background. We owe it to all our children, particularly our very youngest children, to provide them with the best possible start in life and that includes access to a high-quality nursery education experience for all.”

View copy of the Research Review Report, and summary booklet of the key findings and highlights the value of quality nursery education.

For further information, please contact Brian Cooper on 0131 225 6244