Editor's view - Graduates can make a big difference

What message should we take about the quality gap in deprived areas?

We're really pleased to have an article from Sandra Mathers in this issue of Nursery World, explaining the conclusions of her report 'Quality and Inequality: Do three- and  our-year-olds in deprived areas experience lower quality early years provision?'.

Sandra was very keen to set out the findings and implications in detail, to offer a balanced view, as the topline results show that there is a quality gap between private and voluntary settings in the least and most deprived areas that doesn't exist in maintained schools and nurseries.

This inevitably leads to national press headlines about poor quality private nurseries and the need to put young children in schools. This is not the message that Sandra and her co-author Rebecca Smees were aiming to give.

They are very clear that with equal resources to the maintained sector, particularly in terms of employment of graduates, the PVI sector has the potential to close the gap.

The early years pupil premium could help with this, they argue.

The last thing we need is for the early years sector to feel that one part is being pitted against another, but the findings of this report are very important and shouldn't be ignored.

As we enter the run-up to the next election, this is something for the various political parties to think about. The PVI funding for the free entitlement for two-, three- and four-year-olds does not easily enable more graduate recruitment, or at least at rates that reflect the level of qualification.

If parents are to be promised more funded hours, these need to be high quality and paid for properly.

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