Truss backs French-style academies for toddlers

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Education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss is backing a new chain of French academy nursery schools opening across England.

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Children will learn about French culture and wear a uniform of stripy top and beret

The chain of academy nurseries, Poisson d’Avril, will receive Department for Education start-up funding of £18.7m.

Ministers believe that ‘school readiness’ is the key to children’s academic performance and they will be tested weekly on grammar, punctuation and quadratic equations.

There will be a strong focus on maths in Mandarin from the age of two.

The schools will be open from 6am to 8pm to cater for hard-working families.

Head teacher Amelie Blague told Nursery World, ‘Here there will be no children running around without purpose. We expect the enfants to sit up straight, be able to tie their own shoe laces and write their name in English, French and Mandarin before they are two.’

But she added that there would also be time for play, with activities such as toasting macaroons over an open fire and chopping wood.

The uniform will be Breton-striped tops and berets, and the staff will be dressed in cobalt blue.

Children will learn about French culture, including film and music.

The school song will be Edith Piaf’s Je Ne Regrette Rien, and the curriculum will cover classic songs from the greats, including Johnny Halliday and Vanessa Paradis.

There will be cordon bleu cookery lessons for children and parents will have the chance to sample the cuisine at home.

Madame Blague said, ‘With parental consent, les enfants will be allowed a small drop of vin rouge for their dejeuner so that they learn to appreciate fine wine and what goes best with fromage.’

The minister said that high-quality education and childcare would be funded at a cost of £1.50 an hour per child, but that graduate nursery staff could expect competitive salaries.

There will one early years teacher to 30 two-year-olds.

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