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Pre-school Education

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government have taken to improve children’s pre-school cognitive development in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley district and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency since 1997. (242368)

In 1998 the Government published Desirable Learning Outcomes that included goals for learning (including on early literacy, numeracy and the development of personal and social skills) for children by the time they entered compulsory education. In 2000, the Qualification and Curriculum Authority published Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, which contains six areas of learning, 69 Early Learning Goals, and stepping stones to achieve them for children aged three to five year. For younger children “Birth to three matters” was published in 2002. It focuses on child development, and includes four themes: a Strong Child, a Skilful Communicator, a Competent Learner and a Healthy Child.

In September this year the Government published the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, which brought together the previous early learning frameworks and sets quality standards for learning (including cognitive development) and care for all settings caring for children aged birth to five.

In the north-east the National Strategies have provided support to local authorities and developed a set of materials to help practitioners to support children’s social development through “Social and Emotional Aspects of Development” (SEAD) programme.

The Government have also introduced the “Every Child a Talker” (ECAT) programme—which will give practitioners easier access to training and materials so that they are better equipped to identify and support children’s early language needs and development. In addition we have introduced the “Communication, Language and Literacy Development” (CLLD) programme which aims to support practitioners with children’s early reading, development of speaking and listening skills and to embed phonic work within a broad and rich language curriculum. The NE region has eight out of 12 local authorities in the first wave of the ECAT programme and 12 are in the CLLD programme.