Nurseries and schools to stay open all day for childcare

Minister says needs of modern families should come first but union warns of risk to youngsters

Education Editor

Nurseries should be open all day to meet the needs of modern families, Liz Truss, the education and childcare minister, has said.

Too many nurseries only offer two slots a day – either from 9am to 12 noon or from 12 noon to 3pm – an arrangement that is not always suitable for parents who are struggling to “combine childcare with work and other commitments”, she said.

Ms Truss announced that the Government was giving every school the power to open their nurseries from 8am until 6pm so that they could offer “good packages to all parents”. In addition, more talented graduates will be recruited to nurseries and pre-schools.

Her comments come at a time when early years education is under new scrutiny, following chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw’s speech last week calling for schools to admit more two-year-olds amid fears that some nurseries are failing.

But teachers’ leaders warned there was a danger that children would be “institutionalised” at too young an age. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Children need a work/life balance, too,” This was unlikely “if your parents are exhausted and your parents are irritable and you don’t see them from 7 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock in the evening”, she added.

Her union will soon debate a motion criticising “the erosion of childhood and family life through proposed policies such as school starts for two-year-olds and extended primary school opening”.

“If you’re a child and you’re spending more time in a school or nursery, in a sense that’s work for you because home is where you are most relaxed,” Dr Bousted said. “There is concern that we institutionalise our children too young. We’re not against very good child care facilities.”

In her speech yesterday Ms Truss insisted top-quality teaching in the early years and more flexible opening hours were essential to closing the gap between children from high and low-income families before they start school. According to research, children from poorer backgrounds could be as much as 18 months behind in reading and numeracy by the time they start compulsory schooling.

“A child is a child whether or not they come from wealth or poverty they need the same nurture, love and learning in the early years,” she added.

“Teaching in the early years needs to be age appropriate,” she added. She gave the example of a parent counting the stairs as they carried a child to bed and singing nursery rhymes with their children as examples of the type of learning that could take place in an early years setting.

She also announced an expansion of the Teach First scheme – which places the highest performing graduates in disadvantaged schools – in early years settings – with the employment of 50 extra teachers. At present there are 16 Teach First graduates in early years settings.

“We want to see teachers in the driving seat and improving the quality of learning,” she added. “We want strong providers working with weaker providers to improve practice in the early years settings.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine