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Councils welcome pre-five push

The Government is at last receiving some plaudits for its pre-fives policy as education authorities give a generally positive endorsement to the Scottish Office's proposals for a pre-school curriculum. The deadline for responses is February 14.

The draft framework, which concentrates on the immediate pre-school year at which nursery vouchers are targeted, was hailed last week as a more progressive document than its counterpart south of the border. Some 10,000 copies have been circulated for comment and the responses are being collated by the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum.

East Lothian's says the document is "readable and helpful and reflects the practice already in place in East Lothian nursery schools and classes".

Shetland issued a joint response with voluntary and private pre-school centres which said the document was "relatively jargon free, user friendly, fairly compatible with the education authority policy and describes a quality curriculum". The council notes, however, that "there is little appreciation of accents, dialects and languages other than English".

South Lanarkshire also praises the framework's friendly and accessible nature and says its advice is practical and relevant. Renfrewshire says staff have been calling for such guidelines for a number of years.

But there is inevitable criticism of the emphasis on the pre-school year only, with Renfrewshire warning: "There is a danger that younger children will receive a diluted version of the pre-school curriculum." South Lanarkshire regrets the lack of "depth" in the coverage of some issues.

South Lanarkshire feels insufficient account has been taken of the need to build links between the pre-school and lower primary stages or of the varied experiences and starting points of young children, a point endorsed by East Lothian.

Shetland is concerned about the document's assumption that everybody in the early education field understands how young people learn and develop, which could lead some providers to use the framework as "a check list and therefore a base line of achievement".

Meanwhile preliminary research on the pilot voucher schemes, reported in this week's TES Scotland, finds that "only a very small minority of parents expressed disapproval in principle".

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