The Department for Education document ‘More great childcare - raising quality and giving parents more choice’, outlines proposals to make it easier for schools to be able to offer provision for the under-fives, drawing on the French model of the ecole maternelle infant schools, which accept children as young as two.
French ecole maternelle infant schools are state funded and provide full or part-time provision. While they predominantly care for children from three to five, they also open to two-year-olds.
While the DfE recognises that many primary schools already provide early years education with attached nurseries and children’s centres on site, it says it wants to build on this and enable schools to take children at a younger age.
To encourage more schools to accept children under three, the department is proposing to remove the current requirement for schools to register separately with Ofsted in a move that could affect the number of children attending PVI nurseries.
The document states, ‘Subject to legislation, we will remove the current requirement for schools to register separately with Ofsted in order to provide for children under three. We will reform the current cumbersome statutory processes for schools to change their age range, to make it easier for them to offer early years provision for two-year-olds.’
It goes on to say that the development of early years teachers working with young children will make it easier for schools to offer early years education.
More Great Childcare also says that parents want more traditional nursery classes led by teachers, and that this could take place in schools or in private and voluntary settings using graduates in charge of classes of 13 children per adult.
It adds that schools could choose to run childminder agencies, offering support and the chance for children to engage with school early.