Nick Gibb to take on responsibility for early years

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Schools minister Nick Gibb is to take on the early years brief, including funding, the Department for Education has announced.

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Nick Gibb, minister for school standards has taken on the early years brief

The minister for school standards will be responsible for early education and childcare covering funding, support for the workforce, curriculum, quality and the early education entitlements.

He will also add PE and school sport and the Pupil premium to his existing portfolio.

Earlier today, responding to the Early Years Alliance's Workload survey, he tweeted, 'To clarify that EY teachers and practitioners don’t need to prepare paperwork for inspectors. We want to free teachers and practitioners to spend more time on important activities such as reading to children.'

The addition to Mr Gibb's brief follows the news that Michelle Donelan will be taking on the role of children and families minister while Kemi Badenoch is on maternity leave.

She takes on responsibility for children’s social care, special educational needs and disabilities – including high needs funding – disadvantage and social mobility and support for the home learning environment.

Ms Donelan will also continue to support the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, in his role as skills lead, including on delivery of T-Levels, apprenticeships and adult education, as well as remain a Government Whip.

Meanwhile, Chris Skidmore returns as joint minister for universities, science research and innovation across the Department for Education and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, following the resignation of Jo Johnson.

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Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said, ‘Nick Gibb is a senior minister with a lot of experience in Government and we look forward to working with him to ensure he has a full focus on the issues facing early years.

‘He will now be overseeing a large portfolio and we expect the minister to give equal attention to early years as well as schools. This is the third minister with the responsibility for early years that we have been told about since the summer and we hope he has the chance to get to grips with the funding and workforce crises our work with the sector has revealed.

‘Investing early in a child’s life can make the most difference to their development and life chances. While education funding has been a recent focus, we will make sure that early years is not being overshadowed and I look forward to meeting with him soon.’

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, 'We are looking forward to working with the minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, as he takes on policy for early education and childcare as part of his extended ministerial brief.

'We hope that, by working in partnership with the sector, Mr Gibb can urgently address the challenges facing the sector and build on the unique contribution early education make to children to receive the best start in life'

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said, 'The expansion of Nick Gibb’s role to include early years comes at an important time for the sector. While early years funding is clearly the urgent priority, the minister will also be well aware that there is a depth of concern in the sector about ‘schoolification’ of the early years.

'We are keen to work with him to ensure that early years policy in a wide range of areas, including funding levels, EYFS revisions and workforce recruitment and retention, are informed by robust evidence and best practice.'

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