chapter  11
11 Pages

Nursery Education and the National Curriculum

As we approach the millenium, we seem to be at a strange juncture in our country's attitude to, and treatment of, the youngest children in our society. More than ever before politicians of all parties are beginning to take an interest in educational provision for children in their earliest years. The cynics among us might question their reasons - has edu-care (daycare which engages children in appropriate learning opportunities) become a vote-catcher? Is it because of evidence that early learning promotes children' s later achievements, inc1uding those assessed by the National Curriculum tasks and tests (e.g., Ball, 1994; Shorrocks, 1992; Schweinhart and Weikart, 1993)? Or that criminal tendencies can be curbed by ear1y intervention (Schweinhart and Weikart, 1993)? Or have politicians woken up to the fact that the UK is being overtaken in economic terms by countries which are willing to invest in young children and that perhaps, after all, there may be something in what the advocates of nursery education have been saying for most of this century?