Childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has announced details of support for early years teaching aimed at driving up standards and closing the attainment gap between pupils.
Ms Truss says the measures are designed to lead to the creation of "a teacher-led, self-improving system which is judged on its outcomes".
Speaking at Policy Exchange, the minister said an 18-month vocabulary gap exists between children from low-income backgrounds and their more privileged peers. A successful system will be one in which this gap is eliminated, she said.
In support of the government's ambitions, Ms Truss cited Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw's comments that there is no necessary link between poverty and failure.
In order to achieve this, the government is to focus on quality, ensuring nurseries develop the skills children need in preparation for beginning school. Success will be judged on outcomes, she insisted, and there will be a common framework for doing so.
"Previously different providers have been on different frameworks, school nurseries assessed in a different way from day nurseries and childminders. That isn't right - and I am pleased there now will be a level playing field," she commented.
The minister announced the creation of a system that is "better together", with more successful providers supporting neighbouring schools to implement effective staff training and development. This will help to establish a "self-improving" system.
Some 20 teaching schools are establishing new links with early years providers in their area, she said.
There is also to be an expansion of the School Direct programme, with 59 places allocated for September 2014 to six early years teaching schools and the nursery chain Bright Horizon.
Specialist training has been brought in and bursaries increased for those entering teaching jobs through the graduate route.
In addition, Teach First is being expanded, with 50 more graduates on the two-year scheme to give them an understanding of working with children from birth until they are three years old.
Ms Truss said quality is rising and a great deal of effort is being made to raise standards, but success will only be achieved when there is no attainment gap.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels