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New report calls for a qualified early years teacher in every setting

A new report from Save The Children and University College London has highlighted the importance of stimulating toddlers’ brains, claiming that nearly 130,000 children per year are falling behind before they even reach school.
The report, ‘Lighting Up Young Brains’, highlights the fact that toddlers’ brains form connections at double the rate of adults’, and STC and UCL are hence urging the government to ensure that every nursery has a qualified early years teacher in order to support these early years.
Professor Torsten Baldeweg, professor of neuroscience and child health at UCL’s Institute of Child Health, said that the pre-school period of a child’s life is when the most explosive brain growth takes place and most of the connections in the brain are formed.
“We need input to maintain them for the rest of our lives. And we know that if these connections are not formed they, to variable degrees, will suffer longer term consequences to their physical, cognitive and also emotional development,” he said.
“That’s perhaps one of the most important lessons we’ve learned from these studies – that these early years are absolutely critical. Much more must be done to boost children’s early learning.”
The report aims to “challenge the misconception that learning can wait for school” and claims that if a child starts their first day at school behind, then that is where they tend to stay.
Neil Leitch, Pre-school Learning Alliance chief executive, had a mixed response to the report.
“While it’s of course important that children are supported to be in the best possible position when they start formal schooling – and a positive early years experience is often vital to this – discussions on ‘school-readiness’ can too easily become fixed on ensuring children reach a predetermined level of ‘achievement’ by the time they start school,” he said.
“Good early years policy should take into account the fact that children naturally develop at different rates, and focus on ensuring that schools are child-ready, not the other way around.”