Early Years

Early years education. [Photo: M. Kaczmarek]

In recent years British nurseries and schools have introduced the teaching of reading and writing ever earlier. It is now not uncommon for three and four year olds to be exposed to such instruction.

There is good evidence however that this not only damages some children but by diverting attention from a proper focus on early attention, listening and oral language skills, undermines the entire British education system, accounting for much of the disaffection and low standards seen in Britain.

The position is similar in the US but dramatically different in many European and Asian countries whose education systems bring a far higher proportion of young people to high educational standards.

David Mills interest in this crucial area of education policy stems from the mid 90s when he became aware that the focus of academic investigation into the causes of Britain's poor educational performance was moving from primary to pre-school education. As a speech and language therapist working with primary and pre-school children, Clare Mills was ideally placed to understand the significance of the new research and help take it forward.

Together they produced a documentary, a report for Channel 4 and provided evidence for the Select Committee on Education. They are currently carrying out further research and preparing a book and further documentary.