‘Old fashioned’ nursery rhymes are no longer being sung to children – leaving them badly prepared for school, according to Ofsted’s chief inspector.
Amanda Spielman says it is a ‘great shame’ that rhymes such as Humpty Dumpty and Hickory Dickory Dock are not being sung to new generations.
The inspector, who is due to make the comments at a childcare conference on Wednesday, will say: ‘I imagine most of you could recite The Grand Old Duke of York.
‘But we can’t say that is the case for children today,’ she will tell a childcare conference.
Nursery rhymes such as Humpty Dumpty and Hickory Dickory Dock are no longer being sung to new generations of children
‘Humpty Dumpty may seem old-fashioned, but children who can sing a song and know a story off by heart aged four are better prepared for school.
‘Nursery rhymes provide a collective experience and teach a little bit of social history to boot,’ she says.
Literacy consultant Sue Palmer, author of the book Toxic Childhood, said nursing rhymes were vital for a young child’s ‘language development’.
But she said many children were simply being played the classic songs by tape or video, when the secret to their success was in the interaction between the singer and child.
She said: ‘These old rhymes have hung round, mothers have sung them through the ages. It is ancient women’s wisdom that is getting lost now.
‘They have been sung throughout the ages because the child responds well to them, and the reason the child responds well to them is that the child can imitate that song and…. develop their language ability.’
Former accountant Mrs Spielman was a controversial choice for the new head of schools regulator Ofsted, after MPs on the education committee said she lacked ‘vision and passion’.
She replaced former head teacher Sir Michael Wilshaw in January.
In August, she warned children were being denied the chance to develop ‘resilience and grit’ because of ‘barmy’ health and safety policies.
She has also said schools should stop putting league tables above providing children with a rounded education.