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Parents give pre-school education the thumbs up

19 January 2010

Preparing their child for school and making sure they’re looked after by caring, well trained adults are the key factors influencing parents’ choice of pre-school, according to the findings of a survey published by the Early Years and Childcare Partnership (EYCP).

The survey, which asked parents of pre-school children about what influenced their choices of pre-school provision during 2009, was carried by an EYCP working group monitoring the Nursery Education Fund (NEF).

Following the States decision to provide States funded nursery education for 20 hours a week during term time for children in their pre-school year, the Department for Education, Sport and Culture (ESC) has worked closely with the Island’s private and voluntary sector nurseries to establish this scheme. To support this initiative the NEF was established in September 2009 and is managed by ESC.

The survey explored the reasons behind parents’ choice of pre-school education. Two groups of parents were consulted: those using pre school centres and those using nursery classes. In both groups parents indicated that ensuring their child is prepared for school is the most important influence on their choice of pre-school experience. They also want their child to be with caring adults who are able to provide a high quality early learning experience.

The independent chair of the EYCP, Nicky Road, is delighted with the survey results. “Research evidence shows that children who have experienced high quality pre-school education have strong foundations for learning, and success in later life. The results of this survey confirm that parents not only understand this but that it’s their key consideration when choosing a nursery. It’s clear that for the majority of parents, pre-school is about education and not just about child care.

"Jersey is leading the way in offering 20 hours or more a week of free, high quality early learning to young children. Take-up has been excellent and this means that children can benefit from a pre school experience. Parents are right to emphasise the importance of the quality of the provision and preparation for school, as all the research supports this view.”

The findings have also been welcomed by the Minister for Education, Sport and Culture. Deputy James Reed said: “The survey shows that prior to their children starting school, parents are looking for a high quality early learning experience for their children provided by experienced and caring people. I believe that with the development of the new partnership between the department and other child related organisations, we are now able to provide this service to more of Jersey’s pre-school children.”

“Since the Nursery Education Fund was launched in September 2009, almost 900 children have benefited from States’ funded pre-school education, using both pre-school centres and primary school nursery classes.”

The findings of this consultation will be used to inform the work of other EYCP working groups which includes consultation with parents.
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