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Child development is about more than exams

"When it come to academic excellence for children, we need to look at the evidence of what works. We can learn a lot from countries like Finland, where formal education starts later and which have excellent academic achievement. Their early years teachers are highly qualified, and highly valued for the vital work they do in shaping and nurturing the next generation.

"There's good evidence that children who start formal education later often go on to do well academically as they get older. There isn't as strong evidence for the so-called 'nappy curriculum' where children are tested at a young age. What we need is world class universal early years education. This is about nurturing child development and building social and emotional resilience.

"In fact, if we want to compete with other world economies, we need our children and young people to be in good physical and mental shape so they can be a productive workforce for the future. Countries like Singapore are realising that a punishing approach to exams creates stressed out young people who are not the building blocks of economic success.

"We need to invest properly in our children and young people. That means recognising that physical and mental wellbeing is not a hippy, nice-to-have notion to address once the 'real academic work' has been done. In this way, children become ready to learn and we build a healthier and happier society."

Written: 18/09/2013 , last modified: 29/11/2013