Charities unite to call for more funding in early years

Friday, May 10, 2019

Children's charities and a teaching union have joined forces to call for more investment in early years education, amid evidence that underfunding issues are damaging children’s life chances.

The group, which is calling for more funding ahead of the spending review, includes Save the Children, Coram Family Childcare, the National Association of Headteachers, Early Education and the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.

The move follows a roundtable event convened by Save the Children in light of growing evidence that a lack of Government investment is impacting early years provision.

It follows two recent major parliamentary reports, the Education Committee’s Life Chances Inquiry report and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility’s report on closing the regional attainment gap.

MPs said that quality provision is at risk and the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is widening.

The group said, ‘Education and childcare are essential for a child’s early development. It is especially important for children living in poverty, who are at even greater risk of falling behind. But to have the biggest impact, early years education needs to be high quality. Early years providers are doing the best they can with limited resources but are at risk of being forced to cut back on quality because of a lack of investment and funding cuts over the past decade.

‘We urge the Government to make quality education and childcare a priority in the forthcoming spending review and ensure that all children get the best possible start in life.’

The group want to see action on key areas of early years quality, including a focus on qualifications and professional development opportunities for early years practitioners.

They are also concerned that underfunding of 30 hour childcare may impact on providers’ ability to deliver high-quality early education and childcare and are calling on the Government to monitor closely the impacts of the policy.

Charlotte Lynch, UK Policy Advisor at Save the Children, said, ‘The early years attainment gap has grown for the first time, yet the Government are not investing in quality early years provision. Evidence suggests that the 30 hours entitlement may be putting more pressure on providers, driving down quality even further. We are also concerned about the DfE’s intentions for early years teacher status and urge them to boost the number of graduates in the workforce by ensuring there is an attractive and robust early years teaching qualification available. 

‘We can’t ignore this issue any longer. The DfE must support providers to offer high-quality education and childcare or risk the attainment gap widening even further.’

Last week, the Early Years Alliance called on the early years sector to unite behind a week of action, starting on 10 June, to ensure childcare providers engage with every MP in England about the early years funding crisis in the lead up to the spending review.

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