'Early learning plan "a pound;21bn failure"'
The Daily Telegraph
clock those quotation marks. They certainly do not denote a quote from the academic study that inspired the story.
It is true that research by Durham University found little change in 5-year olds results, when different groups sat a 20-minute reading and maths test over the past decade.
It is also true that, if you include every aspect of early years support and childcare, the Government has spent pound;21 billion since 1997.
But the Durham report is very clear on one thing: its findings cannot be used to show whether Government initiatives have failed.
"It is important not to jump too rapidly to evaluative conclusions," it states. "The study had no measures of the involvement of children in any of the national initiatives."
Dr Christine Merrell, who led the study, told the Telegraph: "One would have expected that the major initiatives would have resulted in some measurable changes in our sample of almost 35,000 children. It is possible, however, that it is still too early to measure their effects."
Obviously "a pound;21bn failure" is a snappier angle to lead on.
There was one failure the failure of the study to find any changes in children's development and skills. Not quite the same thing.
Leading article, page 9