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HomeNewsLaura Perrins: No, childcare will not solve all our problems

Laura Perrins: No, childcare will not solve all our problems


The promotion of pre-school childcare by the left is relentless. Like the plant Audrey II from the Little Shop of Horrors advocates for pre-school childcare are never satisfied. They want more and will stop at nothing to get ever younger children into nurseries for ever longer hours.

They have the four-year-old and the three-year-old children. The two-years-olds are next on the hit list. It will not be long before one-year-olds will be expected to be dropped off at nursery for ten hours a day five days a week.

The supporters of taxpayer-funded childcare have moved beyond the argument that it is necessary for women to work and for the economy. Now, unbelievably they are saying the State care/education of children is in fact better than the care Mum could give.

We are told childcare will narrow the education gap between poor and richer households (because poor parents cannot be trusted with their kids, you know); that it will improve UK PISA results (laugh out loud at that one); and, generally turn the kids into geniuses. All of these assertions are not evidence based and are garbage.

In the United States, the Perry study is much cited as evidence that intensive intervention for toddlers closes the equality/social gap. But on closer analysis, this is not true. Research found that there was an increase in income between the Perry group and non-Perry group (all from disadvantaged backgrounds), but that it came nowhere near to closing the gap between the group and their middle-class classmates. And any improvement was not passed on to the next generation.

Similarly, Sure Start was evaluated by the Department of Education in 2010. It found that although there were benefits to parental behavior “only in the case of physical health did children directly benefit”. There was no discernible effect to “school readiness”, as measured by the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Or consider Ontario, which is currently in the fourth year of a five-year rollout for full-day junior and senior kindergarten, meaning that children as young as three attend school all day, five days a week. On evaluation, full-day kindergarten did nothing to permanently improve academic performance. But it stunted the emotional and social development of many children, and had a very negative impact on children with special needs. While children from poor or disadvantaged families derived short-term benefits from extra attention in kindergarten, these disappeared by the time they reached grade one.

Only last year a report published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development, said:

“children who spent more time in group care, mainly nursery care, were more likely to have behavioral problems, particularly hyperactivity”.

The study, led by Prof Alan Stein, of Oxford’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that “children who spent more time in day care centre’s were more likely to be hyperactive” and that “children receiving more care by child minders were more likely to have peer problems.”

As for improving PISA scores (if you care about such things) the fall in the PISA scores is because of poor State education. It is because a core knowledge curriculum is not offered in English and History in particular and rote learning has been abandoned in maths leading to painfully slow methods of multiplication and division. To say that the reason PISA scores are low is because the two year olds have not been hot housed in a nursery is laughable. It is worse than laughable it is just lying.

The Guardian editorial even compared childcare to University education. This is crossing the Rubicon from the sane to the ridiculous. The reason why people go to University is to acquire knowledge, which is imparted by people who are experts in the field. In fact these experts are even paid to acquire further knowledge in the field so it can be passed down to the next generation – a select few until recently. Although some universities are abandoning this mission it remains the case for most.

Caring for a two-year-old child does not require expert knowledge in a given field. It requires love, and a long-term interest in the outcomes for the child. What the Guardian is essentially saying is that mothers are just too stupid to raise their own children and it should be left to experts – preferably experts employed by the State.

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