This, plus the suggestions by the Children, Schools and Families Secretary that Sir Jim Rose, whom he has already asked to undertake the most important review of primary education in a decade, should also look at smoothing the transition between nursery and school, and letting those born in the late summer start school a whole year later. This will be music to the ears of early years practitioners, and suggests that Mr Balls has been listening.
The transition between foundation stage and Year 1 is too abrupt. Pupils, particularly boys, who are happy to trot along to nursery school because of access to toys, can suddenly baulk at education as they enter Year 1 and a classroom environment full of desks, chairs and no sandpit. And do five- to seven-year-olds really need lessons in all curriculum subjects when they are just mastering the basics of reading, writing, numeracy and learning to socialise?
Helen Ward, our primary specialist, interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live last month, called for a more radical review of the primary curriculum than the clutter-clearing one that was being hinted at pre-Christmas. It's what teachers are desperate for, she said. They should be extremely pleased, then, by this late and most welcome Christmas present.