Mrs Truss, a 37-year-old mother of two, has again outraged the childcare industry with comments in an interview with the Daily Mail. She claims the Government want children “to learn to listen to a teacher, learn to respect an instruction so that they are ready for school”.

In the interview she claims, ‘This isn’t about two-year-olds doing academic work – it’s structured play which teaches children to be polite and considerate through activities which the teacher is clearly leading’.

Her comments have sparked heated debate on social media, with many providers clearly insulted by her statements.

‘At the moment fewer than one-third of nurseries employ graduate-level teachers and have structured, teacher-led sessions. We know that’s very beneficial.

‘What you notice in French nurseries is just how calm they are. All of their classes are structured and led by teachers. It’s a requirement.

‘They learn to socialise with each other, pay attention to the teacher and develop good manners, which is not the case in too many nurseries in Britain.’

She said of UK providers: ‘Free-flow play is not compulsory, but there is a belief across lots of nurseries that it is. I have seen too many chaotic settings, where children are running around. There’s no sense of purpose.

‘In these settings where there aren’t sufficiently qualified staff, and children are running around, we are not getting positive outcomes.

‘We want children to learn to listen to a teacher, learn to respect an instruction, so that they are ready for school.’ 

‘Children get into the habit of  waiting their turn, of saying hello to the teacher when they come into the room,’ she said.

The minister also referred to recent changes to rules on child-to-adult ratios, that are designed to encourage nurseries to employ better-paid graduates.

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