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Praise from OFSTED

ursery education has improved markedly over the past three years, say inspectors, but there is still much to do to boost the teaching of language and literacy and maths "to enable children to get the best possible foundation before they start school". Improvement is needed in many settings, but especially in playgroups and pre-schools, although thousands are doing well, says a report from OFSTED. About a quarter of all settings across all sectors have weaknesses in overall teaching quality. Assessment is inadequate in nearly 40 per cent.

Children are learning to listen attentively and to speak fluently, and they get on well with each other and adults.

Meanwhile, early years expert Professor Kathy Sylva of Oxford University, told the Nrth of England Education Conference in January that children encouraged to initiate their own play in nursery school were better at reading and writing by the time they reached primary age.

nIn another report, inspectors found that literacy teaching in special schools is satisfactory or better in 93 per cent of lessons, good in 58 per cent and outstanding in five per cent. Teachers told OFSTED that pupils showed a marked improvement in concentration, behaviour and attitudes with regard to reading since the introduction of the national literacy strategy.

The quality of nursery education for three- and four-year-olds 1999-2000 and The National Literacy Strategy in special schools: 1998-2000 are available on

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