3 Sep, 2015

Liz Kendall: Finland is best model for early years education

The Evening Standard | JOSEPH WATTS AND ANNA DAVIS | 2 September 2015

Labour’s Liz Kendall today called for a Finnish-style education revolution to ensure poorer children do not start school having already fallen behind.

The leadership contender said Britain had to learn from schools in the Nordic country, which tops international education league tables.

Under her proposals, newborn babies from disadvantaged backgrounds would be given intensive support to ensure they begin school on an equal footing.

Her intervention comes as the Government announced 18 new “free schools” today, including two in London.

Ms Kendall, seen as the Blairite leadership candidate, said the UK had to focus on the “zero to five” years of a child’s life as much as the primary and secondary school years. 

She said: “In Finland they are brilliant at ensuring no young person falls behind.

“From the day a child is born they are visited by health workers who assess their well-being and developmental. The health workers work with psychologists and speech therapists and aim to identify any problems at a very early stage.”

She added: “I would radically redesign early years education to learn from the best bits of the Finnish system.”

The Government has committed to opening 500 free schools, which can be opened by any group using public money, over the next five years.

The 18 free schools announced today will provide 9,000 new places across the country, with the two in London providing 2,000 places between them.