More teachers in nursery education needed


The Scottish Government’s commitment to giving all three to five year old children access to a teacher is under threat due to the lack of qualified staff, warns a new report by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).

The report highlights the vital importance of proper teacher involvement in the nursery setting, particularly as Scotland moves to a new seamless 3-18 model under the Curriculum for Excellence. The report makes recommendations on future best practice for pre-5 education across the country and calls for children aged three to five to have access to a teacher for at least five hours a week. Authorities which fail to meet this requirement should be ‘named and shamed’.

‘Unless there is real commitment on the part of every local council and proper funding support from Government the EIS believes that there are real dangers ahead,’ says the report.

The EIS is concerned that, increasingly, pre-five establishments will be managed by staff other than qualified teachers and that some councils may develop forms of provision that are cheaper than nursery schools or classes and without quality education input.

EIS General Secretary, Ronnie Smith, said: ‘Without teachers in all nursery schools and nursery classes, there is the risk that this important early stage of Curriculum for Excellence will start to unravel which will cause greater difficulties for children and their teachers once they reach primary school. It is essential that we get this first stage of CfE right, which means that teachers must be involved to ensure a quality educational experience for all young children’.

Amongst the findings outlined in the new Report are that there must be recognition that high-quality universal pre-five education has strong benefits for both children and wider society. The Report calls for the rights of the child to be placed at the centre of future debate on the provision of pre-5 education, and for the current low levels of investment in pre-5 education to be increased.

The report also raises serious questions about the pedagogue model, and states that many of the arguments which support this model are based on ill-informed stereotypes and generalisations on the role of teachers and other staff in nursery education.

January 2011