By John-Henry Westen

  LONDON, August 31, 2007 ( – A six year comparison of almost 35,000 children has shown that there has been no change in developmental levels of pupils entering primary school in this period, despite the introduction of several new early years’ initiatives over the past decade, new research from Durham University’s Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre reveals.

  The research, presented Tuesday at the biennial European Association for Learning and Instruction (EARLI) conference, shows that although there have been massive changes in early years education in the last few years, children’s development and skills at the start of school are no different now than they were before the introduction of the early childhood curriculum, the Sure Start programme, free nursery education for all three year olds and the more recent introduction of the Children’s Act 2002 and the Every Child Matters initiative.

  The research used the CEM Centre’s Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) assessment to measure the cognitive development of almost 35,000 children on entry into primary school between 2001 and 2006 and the authors believe it reveals potential policy implications for how future early years initiatives are introduced and monitored.

Dr. Christine Merrell, PIPS Projects Manager at Durham University’s CEM Centre explains: “Our aim with this study is to provide a single perspective on the changing profiles of children starting school in England during a time of rapid change. While the PIPS assessments, used in the study do not measure how many children were involved in national initiatives, one would have expected that the major government programmes would have resulted in some measurable changes in our sample of almost 35,000 children. It is possible, however, that it is just still too early to measure the effects of these programmes particularly those of the Children’s Act and Every Child Matters, which were only introduced in the past few years.”

  The significance of the findings is devastating for the Labour government, currently headed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as it has invested heavily in preschool, early childhood daycare schemes.

  Other studies have found marked negative effects from preschool including brain chemistry damage, aggression, negative social and emotional development, and illness.

  See related coverage:

  Study Finds Daycare Damages Babies Brain Chemistry

  Study Links Child Aggression to Time in Day Care

  Preschool Damages Children’s Social Skills and Emotional Development

  Study Shows Canada’s Universal Daycare Plan Has “Strikingly Negative” Consequences


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