But should we surprised?
Children starting primary school are yet to show any signs of improved development despite Labour's introduction of measures designed to boost early years education, new research claims today.
A study of 35,000 children in England between 2001 and 2006 suggested they were no further advanced now than they were before Labour's overhaul of education for pre-primary school youngsters. The initiatives, which included the Sure Start programme, free nursery education for all three-year-olds, the early childhood curriculum, the Children's Act 2002, and the Every Child Matters initiative, were introduced to improve life chances for disadvantaged children and educational standards in general.
In June of last year the same newspaper reported a study finding that the most deprived families did worse in areas that were covered by the Sure Start scheme that in areas that were not. (I wrote about it here.)
And back in September 2005 I wrote about another study which had found that Sure Start as a whole failed to boost youngsters' development, language and behaviour, and also showed that the children of teenage mothers did worse in Sure Start areas. As I noted at the time, both Polly Toynbee and the Guardian leader writer somehow managed to turn this finding into an argument for spending more on Sure Start.
I wonder how much more evidence will have to be produced before it is concluded that New Labour's nationalisation of parenting has been a failure. This matters to the Liberal Democrats too, because while I was on the party's Federal Policy Committee we voted through a me-too document calling for a children's centre in every community.