Every now and then, as I'm working on the first draft of my thesis, I come across something that makes me stop.
Like these worrying research findings.
The national evaluation of the Early Education Pilot for Two Year Old Children [PDF] concludes that “ provision quality for disadvantaged young children has not improved significantly since the NNI data was collected in 2004/5.”
In case we forget, this during a period of incredible investment in the early years. For example, over half a billion pounds was made available to local authorities between 2006-2011 to fund two programmes to increase graduate leadership in private and voluntary early years settings, according to the final report from the DFE on the Graduate Leader Fund [PDF].
Meanwhile, my exploration of Ofsted's new Data View tool shows that, in the context of overall improvement, the gap between Early Years inspection outcomes in the most-deprived areas of England and the least deprived remains significant:
[View the table full-size]
Of course, numerous health warnings apply to statistics and quality measures. All the same, it's a worrying "double whammy" - children growing up in poor neighbourhoods are more likely to experience poorer early education and childcare.
The BBC reports today that "Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's special adviser on education, says a long-term characteristic of the UK's education system has been social division - with a polarisation between the results of rich and poor pupils." It seems that the polarisation starts very early.