The Government consultation seeks the views of the early years sector, local authorities and parents on the new Pupil Premium for three and four-year-olds from low-income families, and funding for the expansion of the free early education places for two-year-olds from 2015-16.
More than 170,000 three and four-year-olds are set to benefit from the £50m Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) from April 2015, which aims to close the gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers by providing funding to early years providers to help them raise the quality of their provision.
Nurseries, schools and other early years providers will receive an extra £300 per year for each eligible child that takes up the full 570 hours. This equates to an hourly rate of 53p per child per hour.
Early years settings will have the freedom to choose how they spend the money to best support disadvantaged children in their care.
Children eligible for the EYPP include those from low-income families, defined as meeting the criteria for free school meals, children that have been looked after by the local authority for at least one day, adoptd children, those in care or subject to a child arrangement order.
The consultation also outlines plans to move to participation funding for the free early education places for disadvantaged two-year-olds from 2015-16 to mirror the way that three- and four-year-old entitlements are funded.
This will mean that the Government will fund local authorities according to the actual numbers of eligible two-year-olds taking up a place.
The proposed move comes ahead of the expansion of the programme from 20 to 40 per cent of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds from September.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said, 'Every child deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, and this extra funding is a boost to help our youngest children get on in life and succeed.
'Boys and girls from poorer families have often already fallen nineteen months behind their better off classmates by the time they hang up their coat on the first day of school. Increasing their chances of success has got to be a top priority.'
Education and childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said, ‘Children from low- income families are already behind their peers in language and communication by the age of five – this is not good enough.
‘We expect nurseries will use this money to create more high-quality nursery provision led by teachers.
‘We know it’s a challenge to close the attainment gap later on but with the introduction of the Early Years Pupil Premium we hope it will prevent this gap from emerging in the first place.’
Commenting on the announcement, Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said, ‘4Children championed the introduction of a pupil premium for the early years as a way of preparing the most disadvantaged children for school and narrowing the attainment gap between them and their peers.
‘There is a real opportunity to use the announcement today as a springboard to maximise the impact of the free early years and childcare places for two-year-olds and the early years pupil premium for three and four-year-olds, and direct support to the most vulnerable pre-school children in a coordinated way that makes a real difference. We also think there is a real opportunity for children's centres to be much more involved in delivering this.
‘The early years pupil premium needs to be increased during the next Parliament to the same amount per head as a primary school child would be allocated. As we approach the next general election the challenge is for all political parties to set out how they will provide the support we know families need towards making Britain great for children and families.’
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said, ‘The new Early Years Pupil Premium is the right move to support disadvantaged three and four-year-olds and is great recognition of the impact that investing in early years provision, like nurseries, can make to children's futures. It is vital that all the money is passed to the setting attended by each child so that it can be used to make a real difference at the front line. We welcome the Government's recognition of the expertise of nurseries by giving them the freedom to decide how to use the money to help three and four-year-olds learn and develop.
‘At £300 per child this significant help for disadvantaged three and four year olds is welcome, and we hope that over the coming years the level of support will be built up to match pro rata the £1,300* given for primary children in the school pupil premium. Demonstrating the impact of the Early Years Pupil Premium will be critical to building a case for more investment and NDNA will be working to support nurseries and share good practice. We look forward to inputting the views of nurseries to the consultation on the Early Years Pupil Premium so that we develop a system that maximises its impact.
‘With nurseries telling us that free 15 hour nursery places are under-funded by an average £900 per child, per year, pushing up the fees parents have to pay for extra hours childcare, we are urging the Government to build on this with more steps to solve the early years funding crisis. Early years funding must be ring-fenced so it can only be spent on under fives. The setting up of individual childcare accounts under tax-free childcare is a great opportunity for government to look seriously at NDNA's long-standing proposal for a reformed funding system where all a families' tax benefits and free early education funding go into a single account that is paid direct to the childcare provider of their choice.’
Jan Leightley, acting executive director of operations at Action for Children, said, ‘Investing more in the most disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds is a very important move that will help to prepare children emotionally and practically for starting school.
‘We work every day with young children and know early intervention will improve their lives and pay off down the line.
‘The Early Years Pupil Premium is not at the same level as the pupil premium in schools, but we hope to see it increase over time to close that gap.
‘We are keen to work with the Government to make sure that this funding reaches the children and families who will benefit most.’
Neil Leitch, chief exeutive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, 'We warmly welcome the extension of the pupil premium into the early years, and are particularly pleased to see that the Government has ignored misguided calls for the premium to be directed primarily at school-based provision. The private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector plays a pivotal role in the provision of high-quality early education and care in this country and so it is vital that PVI providers are given equal access to any additional support or resources that will enable them to continue to do so in the long-term.
'That said, we would urge the Government to engage further with providers to ensure that the premium level is adequate. Our recent Early Years Agenda survey revealed that, on average, providers currently offering funded places for three- and four-year-olds are underfunded by 91p per child per hour. This means that, even with this additional investment, funding for the scheme is still unlikely to meet the cost of delivery for many providers. As such, while this is a very positive step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done on the part of the Department for Education, to ensure that providers are being adequately supported to deliver high-quality childcare to those children who need it most.'
Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, 'PACEY welcomes the Government’s move to extend the Pupil Premium into the early years so that nurseries, schools and childminders can better support disadvantaged three and four-year-olds. the key will be to ensure the level of funding is enough to support registered providers to invest in the training and quality improvement that we know works best to support improved outcomes for young children. Most childcare settings do not currently receive the level of funding they need to cover the cost of their delivery of the free entitlement. This Early Years Pupil Premium will be less than the Pupil Premium that schools receive. Additionally, many childminders find that local authorities do not recognise the role they can play in the delivery of free early education to two, three and four year olds.
'So while this is good news, it is the starting point and PACEY will be looking to work with Government to ensure funding issues are addressed; all types of provision are included in delivery and, underpinning all of this, that eligible families are aware of the additional funding and support their children can benefit from, regardless of what type of childcare setting they attend.'
- The consultation, ‘Early years Pupil Premium and funding for two-year-olds’, closes on 22 August 2014.