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Norfolk five-year-olds less developed than national average - council targets nurseries

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 March 2014

Teacher playing with nursery pupils

Teacher playing with nursery pupils

(C) 2009 Jupiterimages

Children centres, pre-schools, nurseries and childminders are being targeted in a new push to improve the number of Norfolk under-fives achieving a good level of development.

The county is below the national average, with communication and personal, social and emotional development particular areas of concern.

Norfolk County Council said children’s levels of development at the age of five is the closest indicator of their likely GCSE achievement, and its strategy will concentrate on areas in each district where development, and take up of places for three and four-year-olds, are lowest.

Mick Castle, cabinet member for education, said: “Getting early education right is absolutely crucial if children are to start school ready to learn.

“Children need to be able to speak, listen and work with others if they are to get on at school. If they struggle in the early years it can be difficult to catch up. We must re-focus our work so we are tackling areas of under-performance and challenging and supporting children’s centres, pre-schools, nurseries and childminders where children are not doing as well.

“Clearly, parents have a huge role to play, which is why we are planning to work even more closely with children’s centres to help parents support their children’s early development at home.”

The strategy will also aim to identify children’s special educational needs much earlier, so appropriate support can be put in place to help their early education.

The strategy comes as Ofsted revealed that one-in-four nurseries and childminders in England are judged “satisfactory” at best.

The inspectorate overhauled early years inspections in November, with the “satisfactory” grade renamed “requires improvement”, and only ratings of “good” or “outstanding” now considered acceptable.

Those that fail to meet these standards could face having their registration cancelled - effectively closing them down.

Are Norfolk’s under-fives being failed? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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