Don't hive off early years;Letter

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
YOU report (TES, December 11) that education minister Margaret Hodge has told early-years campaigners: "We are looking at whether we should have a foundation key stage for early years."

Such a proposal would receive very sympathetic consideration from the National Union of Teachers, particularly if it meant that key stage 1 began for all pupils in Year 1.

However, your reporter then describes the Government as planning to implement a "distinct phase". That would not be acceptable. Early years must continue to be an integral part of the primary phase of education.

It is in the best interests of young children if their teachers and other staff continue to have experience and career opportunities throughout primary education. Any "hiving off" of early-years education by creating a distinct phase would be likely to lower its status. The Government's intention is surely to raise the status of nursery and early years education.

The terminology is important. A foundation "stage" is a very interesting proposal. A distinct early-years "phase" would not be in the best interests of young children or the education service.

Doug McAvoy, General secretary, National Union of Teachers

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