Centres of early-years excellence

13th December 1996 at 00:00
I was rather surprised to find myself in agreement with some of the points made by Professor Alan Smithers on baseline testing (TES, November 29). I entirely agree that the proposals represent "measurement gone mad". However, I must take issue with other points, especially his statement that any existing early-years excellence in this country "is in the health service rather than education itself".

To dismiss the impressive work being carried out in some nursery schools, centres and classes in the face of a bombardment of legislative and ideological pressure contrary to good practice, is to insult the dedicated and talented nursery staff who daily enrich children's lives and provide a wonderful foundation for lifelong learning. Some of the best educational practice one could hope to see can be found in the nursery sector, where, unfettered by the national curriculum, teachers have continued to skilfully support and extend the all-round development and learning of each child.

Good nursery teachers know that education is about more than being able to "read, add and behave", although they do ensure that children have a sound and appropriate start in these areas too. While lack of suitable training (initial and in-service) and little on-going support and development have led to some nurseries being less than excellent, it is unfair to imply that this is the whole story. Good nursery education encompasses so much more than the mechanistic approach to concept development Professor Smithers appears to be advocating. Such a simplistic analysis is as pernicious as the proposed tests he rightly condemns.

HILARY FAUST Hillfield Avenue, London N8

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now