Nursery Education usually involves the teaching of children between the ages of three to five years old. Although formal education is not compulsory until the age of five, many leading experts agree that this period of learning may prove the most significant and influential of all the stages throughout a child’s education.
In Nursery School, sometimes referred to as The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), teachers cover the same six areas of learning that follow on throughout the whole of a child’s educational career. The six areas covered are:
• Communication, language and Literacy
• Mathematical Development
• Personal, Social and Emotional Development
• Knowledge and Understanding of the World
• Physical Development
• Creative Development
Children access these six areas by the use of structured, imaginative play and this is planned and delivered by qualified teachers who have chosen to specialise in this particular area. All Student Teachers following a Primary Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) will at some point in their training cover the early years curriculum; giving those intending to work with very young children the opportunity to pursue this role.
Research has proven that this early entry into education is particularly beneficial and increases the chances of children developing into balanced and fulfilled individuals. For example, it has been shown that those children who have had an Early Years Education, go on to generally higher grades, greater literacy; are unlikely to commit crime and are less likely to fall victim to teen pregnancy and other negative and socially inhibiting factors. Simply put, Nursery education has been shown to give children the best possible opportunity to reach their full potential.
Successive governments have been quick to notice the impact that Nursery education can have on children as they grow into adults and consequently many councils have committed themselves wholeheartedly to ‘Sure Start Centres’. Here a whole range of services are in place to support families, and this links in with the government’s ‘Every Child Matters’ policy. The Sure Start strategy is a way of promoting positive outcomes for children regardless of their background.
The Independent Sector
Given the undeniable benefits arising from Early Years education, and especially due to initiatives such as ‘Sure Start’, it is not surprising that Independent Schools have ensured that their Nursery provision is of the highest quality and that the teaching and facilities is a feature of excellence. With few of the constraints imposed by the state sector, Independent Schools can embrace a positive and creative Nursery learning environment in a vibrant way which suits parents and children alike.
Quite often children will attend Nursery School from the age of two for a minimum of four days a week before eventually progressing through to the main school at age four. This is an excellent way for children to move through the key stages without having to change school and helps to promote the deep feeling of belonging and the healthy sense of community often found at the heart of an independent school.