The new hubs are being launched this month in Newham, Wandsworth & Merton, and Barnet, areas where the take-up of places for disadvantaged two-year-olds is lower than average.
London has a below-average take-up of funded places for two-year-olds – 58 per cent of eligible twos took up a place last year, compared with 71 per cent nationally.
Early Years Hubs involve schools, childminders, private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries, and the maintained sector, working together over three years with the aim of improving access to the free early years education entitlement for two-year-olds, and improving the quality of provision.
The aim is also for the hubs to boost the take-up of early years education and childcare support entitlements to enable more parents to look for work. Hubs may also provide childcare outside typical working hours and support children with special educational needs and disabilities, as well as promoting early years as a career.
The Mayor has pledged to improve access to high-quality, affordable early years education for the most disadvantaged families in London.
Last year Mr Khan launched a childcare deposit loan scheme throughout the Greater London Authority for police and transport workers, among others, and has called on other London employers to follow. The scheme helps parents pay costs such as registration fees for nurseries and a month’s deposit, which can be as much as £1,500.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said, ‘Every child in London deserves the best start in life and should be able to benefit from all the opportunities our great city has to offer. Too often, in early years education, it is the most disadvantaged children who miss out.
‘That’s why I want to improve both the quality and access to early years provision for all children. Through these Early Years Hubs, and by working with our partners across London, we can ensure that no child is left behind and that all families have the support they need for their children to thrive.’
Each hub will receive £175,000 between January 2018 and December 2020, as well a a toolkit to share learning across the capital.
Ellen Broomé, chief executive of the Family and Childcare Trust, said, ‘Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads to making our country run: it boosts children’s outcomes, supports parents to work and provides our economy with a reliable workforce. It can help mothers – who are less likely to work in London than other parts of the country – to balance work and care.
‘Evidence shows that early education can only narrow the gap between children and their better off peers when the quality is good enough. The Mayor is right to take a strategic approach to childcare to support children, parents and businesses in London.’
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet Founder and CEO, said, ‘It can take time for new parents to become accustomed to the array of childcare, health and educational services that apply to pre-schoolers - especially those with additional needs - and in the past we've seen strong support on Mumsnet for the principle of bringing services together. If these hubs prove to be effective in providing affordable childcare and early education, as well as extra support for those who need it, they will be very welcome.”
Early Years Hubs
Newham: Working Together
Sherringham Nursery School is leading this hub, which is expected to support 100 childcare settings and 60 childminders. The new hub will build on the work of the existing seven ‘Learning without limits’ hubs in the borough. Its aim is to increase the take-up of two-year-old places from 43 per cent to 75 per cent by focusing on areas with the lowest take-up and high-quality settings.
Wandsworth & Merton: Wandle Early Years Hub
As part of its work as a member of the Wandle Teaching School Alliance, Chesterton Primary School will target disadvantaged areas and aim to increase the take-up of the two-year-old offer, including children with special educational needs, and providing training supporting children with SEN and disabilities from a nursery that runs sessions for children with autism.
Barnet: Barnet Early Years Alliance
Four new hubs will be set up with ‘micro-hub champions’ developing a range of projects including a live feed to provide information to parents on the available childcare in the area.
The hubs will also link up family support practitioners with early years professionals.