Our five year olds doing worse than those in other countries?   3 comments

This morning I read the speech made by Ms. Truss at the Daycare conference  – you can read it as well if you have not already done so

Ms Truss speech at Daycare Trust Conference

I have to admit I had not read very far when questions started to pop into my head

This is the bit that got me thinking

A few weeks ago, I went to an early years seminar hosted by Frank Field, where academic experts presented a compelling chart. It showed that, in England, much more so than in other high-performing countries, major educational gaps open up not at 16 or even at 11, but by the age of five.


The first question – Is this because most of our children start PRIMARY school at 4 years of age?

Second Question – This data that shows that our 5 year olds are not doing as well as five year olds in other countries  – what is tested or looked at? In other words is there a ‘standard test? This is important because in many countries children do not start formal education until 6 or even 7.

Third Question (as a result of second question) – what is ‘curriculum’ in these other countries for their under fives (or six’s or seven’s)?

So I started searching on the internet – now I may have missed it and maybe if I have, someone will be kind enough to point me in the right direction – I am looking for a standardise criteria for assessing the progress of five year olds across all countries.

Anyway I did find this


Maybe it is not the same one that Ms.Truss refers to – but even so it makes for interesting reading (and there is a lot – so admit to scanning for relevant bits)

It seems that the results in this document are based on each countries OWN results – so in our case that will be the end of EYFS profile results.

This point is very important because it is the things we test on that inform the data in this document – BUT – not every country test the same things!

It all depends on the curriculum provided – and so another internet search followed – all I can say is – this was enlightening.


First I am right about school starting ages (as you all knew I was) – I like the terms used in the report – PRE PRIMARY and PRIMARY because the chart that goes with that says it all – most children are in PRE PRIMARY before the age of 6.

The reason for why it is so important is the curriculum that is provided. Nearly every county that offers their children a Pre primary education – do not have reading, writing etc as part of their curriculum – as other things are considered far more important to master first. As an example the French curriculum puts a lots of focus on the spoken language as they consider this to be vital for the child to make progress once he or she starts primary education.

A lot of countries have social skills (or life skills) high on the list of things that their pre primary children need to master.


I could go on for pages citing various reports and various curriculum’s – but actualyl I don’t think I need to because just about every early years ‘person’ in this country already knows this.


It just seems to be the government that does not understand, that chooses to come to a different conclusions about the data, that thinks earlier and earlier formal education is the way to ‘give our children the best start’


Will someone who has the ‘governments ear’ please tell them

There are two main reasons why our 5 years olds do less well that those in other countries

1 They start primary education too soon

(and yes I know reception classes follow EYFS – but the environment is all wrong – teachers do their best but children of 4 and 5 SHOULD NOT be in school)

2. Our curriculum is WRONG

(And as a result the things we assess against are wrong – test the same things as other countries and the children will have better results)

Please government do look at what other countries do – but for goodness sake look at the things that matter –  the curriculum offered, the hours spent being ‘taught,’ the nap / rest times, the environment provided, and so on.

And stop comparing things where there is not a direct and fair comparison.


Our children are ‘failing’ because of the curriculum YOU set and the things YOU decide to test for.


And I still have to read the rest of Ms.Truss’s speech!


Posted December 17, 2012 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3 responses to “Our five year olds doing worse than those in other countries?

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  1. Penny we had a party yesterday and some very good friends came one of whom is a Primary Teacher. She and DH have a lot in common and have various views on how they would deal with Mr Gove should the bump into him! It was very interesting though that she is 100% clear that the children who enter her school from the care of a CM as apposed to a Nursery have a much better transition, are more able to settle better, are more rounded as characters and do better. No this is no the first time I have heard this from a Primary teacher aside from my DH. Why are the Mrs Truss’s of this world mot seeing and listening to this evidence ? I have a 21 month old who is leaving me this week for Day Nursery because she will ‘learn’ more and won’t have sleeps because she doesn’t need those now. It makes me cry to think of this child being condemned to four walls in an institution for the rest of her days before school. A child who loves going out, socializing and revels in being part of a small family who have got to know her and who she has got to know and enjoy. Why do we do this and keep doing this to our children when they are so young and are then surprised when they become burned out or drop out or join the wrong gang when they have been hot housed in this way? When will parents realise?

    • Well said Brita – and echo’s not only my own thoughts, but those of many other early years practitioners.

      Parents are being led to believe that formal early education is best and in many cases before the child is out of nappies.

      There is a time and a place for everything

      And with reports now saying that we are also ‘losing’ our brightest children to the ‘system’ – you have to wonder just who does benefit from early formal education

  2. Pingback: Government planning increase in early years ratios

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