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Sector Response to the Early Years Alliance report on early years education funding

Tulip Siddiq

@TulipSiddiq, @PaulWhiteman6, @cyclingkev, @AnntoinetteBra1 Sector response to the @EYAlliance report on Early Years funding

Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years,  responding to the release by the Early Years Alliance  of private government documents showing that Ministers knew that underfunding early years would mean higher childcare costs for parents, said: 

“These shocking findings confirm the Conservatives’ disregard for early years education and the childcare needs of working families. 

“Conservative Ministers knew that they were dramatically underfunding early years, and that this would drive up the cost of childcare whilst driving down quality. Yet they pushed ahead regardless. 

“The Government owes parents an apology for this reckless underfunding of early years and for covering it up. Ministers must now change their failed approach to early years, which must start with urgent action to prevent further childcare closures.”

Commenting on a report by the Early Years Alliance on the funding of early years education, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“We agree that the early years must be a priority for recovery.

“Children who start school already behind often find it difficult, even impossible, to catch up later, even with additional help. A good way to mitigate the damage caused by coronavirus for young children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is by investing in early years education and family services.

“We also agree that the early entitlements are underfunded and need to be reviewed. We cannot continue to ask Early Years settings to provide first-class education and childcare on a shoe-string budget.”

Commenting on a report by the Early Years Alliance, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

“The NEU has vocally campaigned for increased funding for Maintained Nurseries and the Early Years sector in recent years. The fight against disadvantage and improving social mobility begins with early years, and the role of free and universal nursery education is an essential social investment. It provides crucial financial support to parents looking to return to the workplace, while dealing with the pressures of raising a family. 

“The pandemic has increased the financial pressure the sector was under, with many settings reducing staff to stay afloat, many closing, and many more at risk of shutting their doors for good. If availability pf places and quality provision are to be maintained, then it is essential that existing services are protected and the trend towards redundancies reversed. 

“It is shameful that the government continues to let down the Early Years sector.  The government’s current policies and lack of action are clearly a threat to the sector and the life chances of the children they educate. 

“The NEU will continue to campaign and work with stakeholders to demand that the government owns up to its past mistakes and during the next spending cycle acts to properly fund the sector for the foreseeable future.” 

Responding to an Early Years Alliance report which found underfunding of early years has led to higher childcare costs for parents, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“Effective, high quality early years provision makes a significant difference to young children, helping to break the cycle of disadvantage and improving social mobility.

“Early years is an essential element of levelling up. To help the national recovery, it is vital that all parents have access to the good quality childcare they need to enable them to return to work, while ensuring that children have the support they need to develop school readiness.

“We have long highlighted that the early entitlements are underfunded. This underfunding, alongside a fall in income from parents during lockdowns, was a key factor in the challenges face by early years providers throughout the pandemic as they worked hard to support children and families.

“The forthcoming Spending Review should properly resource all early years settings so that councils and providers can support the Government’s ambition to reduce the attainment gap and ensure that every child has the best start in life.”

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