Memorandum submitted by Pete Rogers


1.       I am a creative practitioner who has worked over the last five years in three nursery schools in Hull, McMillan, Clifton, and Lambert within the creative partnerships programme.  In these schools we have been developing programmes of work that represent excellence in early years education, and the government, through Creative Partnerships, has invested a lot of money for this purpose.

2.       These dedicated nursery schools provide foundation learning which is tailored around the needs of children from deprived areas who are often 1yr behind at aged 2.  The school staff have developed new ways of helping these children.  They also contain special units that nurture SEN children which privat or many nursery units in primary school will not accept.

3.       These centres of excellence of early years education are now sharing their expertise by helping train staff in Nurseries within primary schools and in my experience this is a vital function as the nurseries in primary schools are very different.

4.       Nurseries in primary schools I in my experience offer the children a very impoverished foundation education to the dedicated nursery schools.  The learning seems to be controlled by downward pressure from the curricular agendas above.  They are often used to train the children for KS1.  They are controlled by head teachers who often have no experience or understanding of early years.  These are strong views, but recently I was showing a primary head around a nursery school and the nursery teacher was explaining how they were researching into forming their planning around child schemas.  The primary head said what are those.  They are fundamental child learning characteristics!

5.       This difference can be seen in the provision for continual outdoor provision in nursery schools v nursery in primary.  In a top class Offsted excellent nursery school the children will be running on rough ground, constructing dens and digging holes, have huge sandpits with rocks and bits of tree to climb, puddles to experiment in etc., real childhood experience when most have only back yards at home.  The nursery in a primary school will have tarmac and soft surface, a prescriptive climbing frame possibly, nowhere to dig, no rough ground, a sand tray on legs outside like the one inside - very little scope for imaginative play outdoors in fact a typical playground.

6.       To me the Nursery in primary units have a huge amount to learn from the dedicated Nursery Schools, which are a vital cog in the machinery of improving our children's education.   The vision of the heads in these nursery schools is vital to this process.  The single funding formula will slash the nursery school budgets while giving pence per child to all other nursery settings. The nursery schools will have to perhaps federate or become children's centres to balance their budgets.  In this form they will no longer be able to be missionary establishments to the whole of nursery education.  The government investment and work of  the last five years will have been wasted and early years education empoverished.

7.       If someone wants to visit Hull and report back I would be happy to take you on a tour and show you the differences and the vital need for the dedicated nursery schools to be supported to continue to be centres of excellence.


December 2009