Early years - prevention better than cure

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Your story last week, suggesting that this Government is to reduce early years support for vulnerable two-year olds, could not be further from the truth.

I want early intervention to be the hallmark of the Government's work, and we are committed to supporting children in their vital early years. That's why we've already extended nursery provision across Scotland by raising levels to 475 hours per year for all three- and four-year-olds and are committed to increasing entitlement by 50 per cent.

Government funding for nursery pilots involving two-year-olds was never due to continue beyond June 2008. Our historic agreement with local government means councils are free to decide what pre-school services they provide for two-year-olds, ensuring they are tailored to meet the needs of youngsters in their areas. While a nursery place at the age of two might be the right solution for some youngsters, other children might be better served by other forms of family support with their mothers, for example in family centres.

We will set the long-term direction with our forthcoming early years strategy, which will consider the range of services needed to support young children and their families. I firmly believe that providing the right help and support from birth can drastically reduce the need for intervention in later life.

Many problems - from indiscipline in schools to violence on our streets - can have their roots in a child's early years. This is definitely a case where prevention is better than cure, but we need a joined-up approach which addresses all the issues that such children and families face. The early years strategy will deliver that kind of approach and early entry into pre-school for vulnerable children is, no doubt, one of the options we will examine.

One thing is certain: when it comes to looking after our children, an early start is the best start.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today