Education policy, the fickle mistress that makes up large proportions of a political parties manifesto. In the build up to any election, education policy buzz-words will be used more than the red pen Jeremey Hunt uses to cross out applications for NHS funding. But with all this talk flying around, what actually is going on in Education? What has the current Tory government done that they think is so great? And why do Labour hate it? So with that in mind, let’s look at something almost no one is talking about.
Sure Start. For those of you aware of it what Sure Start is then feel free to skip this paragraph, for the rest of us, Sure Start is a government run service for parents and children under four years old. Sure Start centres around the country offer multiple sessions daily where pre-school children are given a chance to develop necessary social skills, and may begin early academic skills. Basically put, parent and child come into Sure Start Centre, parent and child play with other parents and children, child learns valuable skills from other children and the staff there and parent secretly compares their child to the others in the room (Be honest, If I were a parent I would too). All of these great opportunities at affordable prices, most being just £1 a session.
One of the key things Sure Start do is involve parents. Parental interaction with children is vital, and more important than schools. In the first four years of a child’s life, the parents are the main educator, from “Dogs go woof” to “Don’t touch the burny thing”. Children also learn incredibly well from other children, social learning is key at a young age. Vygotsky, one of the great contributors to the field of pedagogy, wrote many books on how social interaction helped cognitive development. Many research papers, many psychological theories, many hours spent bored in a university lecture room have shown that children develop well with parental involvement and interaction with other children. Sure Start surely sound super right now? Cheap, Educational and with Psychological research to back it up? Surely no government dare cut funding to such a service?
Unfortunately, the UK Government does. Since 2010, 377 Sure Start centres have been closed down it what collates to £600 million in government cuts. £60 million more is planned to be cut this year alone. Now before you grab your pitchfork and march on your local council building, I should remind you the government did open up some new Sure Start centres.
They opened eight new centres since 2010.
Now, it can be argued that maybe the government didn’t know how these centres assisted a child’s development, I mean, Vygotsky didn’t publish his ideas until the 1930’s, and It took me a whole five minutes to google every fact I’ve mentioned so far. Tories don’t have time for that, they’ve got foxes to hunt and junior doctors to alienate.
The science is there. The research is there. Sure Start centres work, and the government closes them.