University research claims attending an ‘Outstanding’ nursery has limited benefit

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Research from the University of Surrey claims that children attending an ‘Outstanding’ nursery or one with highly qualified staff has limited benefit for them.

The research, published on the 13th February, outlined how the Government spends £2 billion a year on providing part-time nursery education for 3- and 4-year-olds in England. In the sample used for the research, 1 in 10 children attended an ‘Outstanding’ nursery, two thirds attended a ‘Good’ nursery, 1 in 5 attended a ‘Satisfactory’ one and 2% attended an ‘Inadequate’ nursery.

The research was conducted by teams from the Centre of Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics, University of Surrey and University College London.

Dr Blanden, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Surrey, said: “Successive governments have focused on improving staff qualifications, based on the belief these are important for children’s learning.

“Our research finding that having a graduate working in the nursery has only a tiny effect on children’s outcomes surprised us.

“It is possible it is driven by the types of qualifications held by those working in private nurseries, they are not generally equivalent to the qualifications of teachers in nursery classes in schools.”

He added: “Some nurseries are helping children to do better than others, but this is not related to staff qualifications or Ofsted ratings.

“It is extremely important to discover the factors that lead to a high quality nursery experience so we can maximise children’s chances to benefit developmentally from attending nursery, particularly as the government extends the entitlement from 15 to 30 hours.”

The teams compared data on children’s outcomes at the end of reception with information on the nurseries they attended before starting school for 1.6 million youngsters born between 2003 and 2006.

The research found that commonly used measures of pre-school quality in England were not able to explain much of the variation in children’s outcomes at school.

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