PARENTS

Schools For Two-Year-Olds? Seriously!

14/08/2014 16:55 | Updated 22 May 2015

Toddler at school

Another day, another "solution to the UK's education crisis". This time, it's the chairman of Ofsted, who reckons that children should start school as young as two.

Hang on a minute. I thought the solution to the UK's education crisis was that children should start school at seven? Now I'm really confused. And so, I suspect, are a lot of other parents. What are we supposed to do with our children? Shut them up in classrooms while they're still in nappies, or let them roam free until they're virtually teenagers?

Baroness Morgan says if children started school at two or three, this would tackle the problems faced by many deprived kids, who start school at four being unable to communicate properly, read or socially interact.

There's a clear message here – parents aren't doing a good enough job. Let's throw their kids over to the state and let teachers sort it out. This really IS the nanny state!

The Government has already introduced a 'nappy curriculum' for tiny children who are supposed to meet a set of standards including literacy, numeracy and 'personal development'.

But that's clearly not going far enough. Can you imagine what the chairman of Ofsted wants to do with these two-year-olds? Let's test them, test them again and then test them some more until they CAN build a tower of bricks, complete a 20-piece puzzle and construct a life-like figure of Michael Gove out of Play-doh.

Yes, there's a gap between children from 'deprived' families and those from rich families. Of course there is. So what's the solution? Is it to strive to make society fairer, to invest in communities and tackle the problem at its source? No, apparently the solution is to remove children from their parents as quickly as possible. That's a slippery slope you're heading down there, Baroness.

And what about those children who are not from 'deprived' families? Do they go to school at two as well? Are two-year-olds ready for school? However happy-clappy school is at that age, it's still a long time in an institutionalised environment. Would there be a choice? And how valid would that choice be?

Hollie, who has two daughters and a step-son, says: "Is the government wanting to absolve parents of educating their children altogether? Children aged four struggle to cope with the stresses at school, so how would a two-year-old cope?

"If children start school at two, it puts an incredible pressure on parents to send them, as they develop friendships. In mainstream schools the child needs to fit a mould; if they don't fit then they can develop problems."

Catherine, who has two school-age children, says: "You might as well give birth and then give your child over to the state. What happened to choice? At least now till school age you can choose to stay at home, send to a childminder, send to nursery or have a combination. If they went to school at two, you might as well not bother having them!"

Oh, and a few more questions for the Baroness. Where are schools supposed to put all these two and three-year-olds? Most of the primary schools in our town are bursting at the seams and have no physical space in which to expand – they're Victorian buildings, surrounded by houses. Oh yes, and another big question - who pays for all this?

i

Baroness Morgan talks about weak parenting, low educational attainment of parents, poor diet and poor housing. These are all serious problems for our society. They demand serious solutions, not back-of-a-fag-packet meddling with the education system.

i

For a start, how about a network of children's centres, which connect with communities, provide help and advice, educate and mentor young parents, and improve the lives of young children. You could call it Sure Start. Oh. Hang on a minute. That sounds familiar. What happened to that?

Let's listen to Baroness Morgan once again. She talked to a conference about the possibility of schools taking kids aged three to 18. Then afterwards she told journalists: "I said three to 18, it could be two to 18 as far as I'm concerned." So that's why the idea sounds like it hasn't been thought through. BECAUSE IT HASN'T. She just made it up during the course of a conversation!

Do you know what would be really nice? If all these people in positions of responsibility, power and influence could stop making education policy up on the hoof, bang their heads together and come up with something sensible for a change.

Do you agree? Are you fed up with change for change's sake?

Suggest a correction