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Union against plan to teach children from the age of two

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw during a visit to Fairlawn Primary School, in Honor Oak, south east London.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw during a visit to Fairlawn Primary School, in Honor Oak, south east London.

CALLS for children to start formal learning at the age of two have been criticised on Wearside.

Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw wants nursery classes to teach children to count and recognise basic words in a bid to stop the poorest children falling behind.

He said he wants more school-based nurseries for children as young as two because he claims children are being let down by poor quality childcare facilities.

However, Sarah Lake, secretary of the Sunderland branch of the NUT, National Union of Teachers, said: “This is something we would be opposed to. It is taking away the right of very young children to play and develop. I don’t think many parents would be happy with children as young as this being taught in such a formal way.”

Councillor Robert Oliver, Tory spokesman for education, said: “There is a problem with many children from low income families who don’t have the right skills when they start school and find it difficult to catch up. So some formal learning at nursery school could help them by increasing confidence in basic skills such as holding a pencil.

“Clearly, this has to be done alongside informal learning and play so that children have a chance to develop naturally too.”

An Ofsted report showed only a third of children from low-income homes have reached what is considered a good level of development by the age of five.

 

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