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Education: Standards

Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) for what reasons the 2004 Public Service Agreement Target 1 on children's social and emotional development was revised in light of the 2005 Foundation Stage Profile Results; and what the revised target is; (176989)

(2) for what reasons the 2004 Public Service Agreement Target 2 on the use of formal childcare in low income families was revised; and what the revised target is.

The technical notes that accompanied the 2004 PSA White Paper and the 2005 DFES autumn performance report, which set out the Department’s progress towards its public service agreement targets, made clear that the levels for targets 1 and 2 were provisional. The 2005 report stated that the final target levels for PSA 1 would be confirmed when the 2005 results were available and the level for PSA 2 would be confirmed in spring 2006.

Progress on PSA1 is measured through Foundation Stage Profile results which was introduced in academic year 2002-03 and was expected to take a number of years to bed in. The provisional PSA1 target was for 50 per cent. of children reaching a good level of development by age five; and no level was set for the inequalities element of the target. The decision to use 2005 results to set the baseline was to allow time for teachers to develop experience in carrying out the observational assessment and for moderation arrangements to be developed. The final target levels for PSA1 were set in April 2006 as 53 per cent. of all children reaching a good level of development and the gap between children living in the 30 per cent. most disadvantaged areas and the rest closing by four percentage points from 16 per cent. to 12 per cent.

The provisional PSA 2 target, used the DWP Family Resource Survey (FRS) as a baseline, and stated that

“by 2008, increase the take up of formal childcare by lower income working families by [50 per cent. provisional, to be confirmed in spring 2006].”

This equated to an increase in take up by some 86,000 families. Changes to the FRS survey in 2005-6 meant it was not possible to establish a satisfactory baseline and trajectory using that measure. In November 2006, the target was finalised using the then Department for Education and Skills (DFES) survey of parents’ use of childcare series 2005 to 2008 to set the baseline and measure progress. The finalised target being

“by 2008, to increase the number of children in lower income working families using formal childcare by 120,000.”