Editor's view: Ballot box tactics

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Leaked policy proposals for education are clearly election-focused, which means that the early years sector doesn't get a look-in

liz-new

The leaked Government proposals for education, seen by the Guardian last week, are obviously aimed squarely at courting votes as a likely election approaches.

Yet, despite promises of greater funding for schools and higher salaries for teachers, the education sector is not jumping for joy.

Much of the money is not new, it claims, and in any case barely makes up for cuts in recent years. There are mooted plans to cut the numbers of teaching assistants, as the Government believes there are too many of them and they are not deployed properly, which unions say they would fight 'tooth and nail'.

Proposals on behaviour give rise to particular concern, including talk of the use of 'reasonable force' by teachers. And backing for greater use of permanent exclusions might play well with readers of certain newspapers, but it will leave vulnerable young people out of school, with mental health problems untackled and easy prey for gangs and knife crime.
Exclusions could, of course, affect young children too, and it would be very retrograde for this sanction to be used more and earlier.

Otherwise, however, there is an eerie silence on the early years sector. There is mention of negotiations on more funding for sixth form and further education colleges, but absolutely nothing on the most important stage of children's development, which appears not to exist in Government minds.

We know that there is a £662m shortfall in funding and that providers are being pushed over the edge to closure or selling up. It is simply not acceptable to ignore this situation.
Or perhaps support for the early years is just not seen as enough of a vote winner to be worth bothering about.

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