NAHT to hear call for teacher-led nursery for every child

The NAHT would like every child to experience teacher-led pre-school by 2020

EVERY child should have access to teacher-led nursery education, a gathering of school principals will hear today.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is the latest union to weigh into the row over whether or not nursery schooling should be provided by teachers.

Members will debate the issue at their annual conference in Newcastle, Co Down.

Tabled by former NAHT president Clare Majury from Holywood Nursery School, the motion echoes a recent call from the head of a sister union.

The Ulster Teachers Union sparked outrage, however, when chief executive Avril Hall Callaghan labelled some classroom staff as "well-meaning amateurs".

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said such comments were "damaging and wide of the mark" while early years experts said there was "absolutely no evidence from local or international research" that pre-school led by teachers provided better educational outcomes for children.

In its motion, the NAHT said it welcomed the findings of a recent Save the Children survey, "as further important research which clearly states that children ultimately achieve more if they have experienced `the gold standard' of graduate, teacher led nursery education".

"We call on DE to set a target of 2020 as the year in which every child in Northern Ireland has access to this level of quality in early years' education."

Ahead of elections, Save the Children published a report that concluded that more graduates were needed in nursery settings - although this focussed solely on England.

The Department of Education advised that nursery schools and units within primary schools in the north are staffed by qualified teachers and nursery assistants.

In voluntary/private settings, at least half the staff must hold a relevant qualification and are expected to work towards ensuring that all staff have relevant qualifications.

"All funded pre-school settings are equally valued for their contribution to the education of pre-school children and all follow the same curriculum guidelines and are subject to the same education inspection standards," a spokeswoman said.


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