'Nappy curriculum' is leaving a nasty smell

18th February 2011 at 00:00

The Independent Association of Prep Schools has around 600 schools in membership, the majority with early years foundation stage (EYFS) settings that have been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

However, contrary to the opinions of that inspectorate, many of the staff in these excellent schools will say their ratings were achieved in spite of the "nappy curriculum", rather than because of it ("'Nappy curriculum' is improving education, claims Ofsted", 11 February).

While the EYFS may have improved standards in weaker schools, in the best early years settings it is an unnecessary straitjacket. Our association has been closely involved in Dame Clare Tickell's review of the EYFS and broadly welcomes the direction she seems to be taking in reducing bureaucracy.

However, one fundamental issue remains: the EYFS is currently mandatory for private and independent nursery settings, even when they do not take Government funding.

It is outrageous that professionals in these high-quality settings, who do not take money from the Government to run them, are not given the autonomy to manage their schools how they see fit. Rather than restricting them to the nappy curriculum, removing this bind of bureaucracy will do real wonders for quality and choice in nursery education.

David Hanson, Chief executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools, London.

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