Government bid to reshape childhood


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Government bid to reshape childhood

Patrick Wintour
The Guardian

Children as young as two are to be offered free nursery care in a government drive to intervene in the lives of disadvantaged children at the very earliest stages of their development.

The subsidised places, to be targeted at poorer parents, are part of a major overhaul of early-years learning that children's secretary Ed Balls will present to the Commons next Tuesday.

Balls will also announce extra support for disabled children and their families, because the extra expenses they incur often tip households into poverty.

The 10-year Children's Plan will address the whole experience of modern childhood, including concerns about the decline in play outside of school hours and worries about children's self-confidence.

The plan, drawn up over the last three months by the department run by Gordon Brown's right hand man, will ask schools to be in regular email contact with parents to give up-to-date information on their children's progress instead of giving just an end-of-term report.

After experimenting with home-school contracts, ministers are looking to strengthen the links between parents and schools, with more detailed goals for children shared between them.

Balls is expected to set out a broad review of primary education in England in the face of evidence that progress in reading and writing has plateaued. It is certain to back the use of the synthetic phonics to teach children to read, and will look at whether the curriculum is too crowded.

Government research shows the level of parental engagement in learning is more important in determining a child's educational achievement than social class, family size or the parent's own academic attainment. Ministers may also expand parent support advisers who work to provide more effective connections between schools and disaffected parents.

The move to target two-year-olds for nursery provision means ministers are likely to put less emphasis on further extending provision for three and four year olds, who are entitled currently to 12.5 hours' free nursery education for 38 weeks a year, due to rise by 2011 to 15 hours a week and ultimately to 20 hours. Childcare spending is now running at more than £1.8bn in the current year.

The Daycare Trust, a charity which campaigns for universal affordable childcare, said around 10 areas were currently piloting schemes for under-threes.

"We would very much welcome any further roll-out of places for two-year-olds," said the Trust's joint chief executive Emma Knights. "Free places are an excellent way of encouraging families to use childcare in early years, which has great benefits for their children - particularly the most deprived."

The government is under pressure to step up efforts against disadvantage as its drive to eradicate child poverty by 2020 stalls. On Monday, speaking at an End Child Poverty event, Balls will announce a £45m fund to give disabled children short breaks - including activity breaks with able-bodied peers - and allow their parents time off from caring.

Brown, frequently accused of failing to set out a clear vision in the wake of his decision to call off the election, is said to be taking intense personal interest in the plan after telling the nation that education is his passion.

It is expected to address the two big moments of transition - between nursery and reception classes, and between primary and secondary education.

It is also likely to express concern at the latest evidence showing a decline in reading among children, while 37% of 10-year-olds play computer games for more than three hours a day.

attainment- osiągnięcie, zdobycie

decline- spadek

disaffected – zniechęcony, niezadowolony

emphasis- nacisk

eradicate- wykorzeniać

incur – narażać (się); ponosić (stratę)

overhaul – przegląd; remont; modernizacja

plateau- osiągać stabilizację, ustabilizowany poziom

roll-out – rozwój

subsidise - dotować

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