Editor's view - Centre for Policy Studies Report

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The early years sector must be prepared to stand up to critics.

Tom Burkard is co-author of the controversial Centre for Policy Studies report that argued that much government spending on Children's Plan initiatives has been wasted, that Sure Start should be scaled down and devolved to local authorities, and that the Early Years Foundation Stage should be scrapped.

So when we commissioned him to write an article for Nursery World about improving the life chances of vulnerable children (Analysis, pages 10-11), we were aware that many of our readers would strongly disagree with what he had to say.

Mr Burkard calls for funding to be allocated to needy children rather than to children's centres, casts doubt on the results of US schemes such as High/Scope Perry and Head Start, and goes on to recommend early reading through direct instruction of synthetic phonics as the only way to give children from disadvantaged backgrounds a boost that does not fade.

Well, there's plenty for the early years sector to get hot under the collar about there! But there is no point ignoring influential think-tank commentators such as Mr Burkard, and hoping that views such as these will just go away. As he points out, schools minister Nick Gibb has been looking at the 'remarkable results' of committed synthetic phonics practitioners, and 'if the Early Years Foundation Stage survives at all, it will inevitably reflect his experience'.

Those of us who believe that this would be a damaging course of action must be prepared to engage in debate and marshal arguments against such newly-powerful lobbies.

We already have one headteacher's strong response to the CPS report. We look forward to receiving some more!

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