Huppert raises early learning fears with Government

Concerns from Cambridge teachers and academics that children may be forced to start formal learning too early under Education Secretary Michael Gove’s education reforms have been raised in Parliament by the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

Julian quizzed Mr Gove on what assessment he had made on the benefits of creative, play-based learning after concerns were raised by Cambridge academics and members of the National Union of Teachers.

They met Julian to call for his support for the Too Much Too Soon campaign which shows that starting children on formal learning too early can hamper achievement and affect their health and well-being.

Julian asked Mr Gove in the Commons yesterday: “Is he aware of the evidence that has been produced by the Too Much Too Soon campaign about play-based learning? What assessment has he made of the benefits of a sustained period of creative play-based learning before children are exposed to more formal learning environments?”

Mr Gove replied: “Early years practitioners know that we need both structured play and appropriate introduction at the right time to more formal methods of learning to get the most out of every child. We are very fortunate that we have no just a revised early years’ foundation stage but more and more talented people teaching in the early years.”

Later Julian said: “Young children are learning from the moment they are born through looking and listening and early play. It’s so important that we give them this time before we put them into a structured classroom setting and start teaching them formally.

“I am concerned that Michael Gove’s changes will push very young children into formal education at a time when some of them are just not ready. They could miss the basic building blocks of education because they are just not able to cope and that could affect later learning and ultimately achievement.

“We all know how important education is for our children but it’s also important that they are allowed the freedom to be little children.”