Children’s Education Recovery and Childcare Costs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:37 pm on 7th June 2022.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education) 4:37 pm, 7th June 2022

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important issue. Our reforms of the funding formula to ensure that schools are funded according to the cohorts that they serve and according to their activity are an important element in responding to it, although of course they will take time to come through. However, it is also important that we look at retention more broadly. As I have said, the Department has recognised that in its move towards a recruitment and retention strategy rather than just focusing on recruitment as it traditionally did. I hope that the funds that we are putting into schools this year—a £4 billion, or 7%, increase—will allow them to deliver good pay rises, and will help with teacher retention. Work with the School Teachers’ Review Body is ongoing on that front.

Extra time is part of our strategy, and we are increasing the number of hours in 16-to-19 education by 40 per student per year from September 2022. In our schools White Paper we set an expectation that all mainstream state-funded schools should deliver at least a 32.5-hour week, supporting our ambition for 90% of primary school children to achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030, and in secondary schools for the national GCSE average grade in both English language and maths to rise from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 in 2030. The parent pledge set out in the schools White Paper further supports these aims by making clear the Government’s vision that any child who falls behind in English or maths will receive the right evidence-based, targeted support to get them back on track.

I am sure the House will agree that the earliest years are the most crucial stage of child development. We know that attending early education supports children’s social and emotional development and lays the foundation for lifelong learning, as well as supporting their long-term prospects. That is why it is so important that we address the impact that covid-19 has had on the youngest children’s social and personal skills as well as on their literacy and numeracy. On top of spending £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on early education entitlements, we are investing up to £180 million of recovery support in the early years sector.

We will build a stronger, more expert workforce, enabling settings to deliver high-quality teaching and helping to address the impact of the pandemic. This includes up to £153 million in evidence-based professional development for early years practitioners—for example, supporting up to 5,000 staff and child minders to become special educational needs co-ordinators and training up to 10,000 more staff to support children in language and communication, maths, and personal, social and emotional development. That includes up to £17 million for the Nuffield early language intervention to improve the speech and language skills of children in reception classes.

Over 11,000 primary schools, representing two thirds of all primary schools, have signed up, reaching an estimated 90,000 children and up to £10 million is included for a second phase of the early years professional development programme in the current academic year, supporting early years staff in settings to work with disadvantaged children.