Pre-school Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th January 2015.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department has taken to support parents in bolstering the cognitive development of their children before they reach primary school.

Photo of Sam Gyimah Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Research shows that parental involvement in early learning as part of daily family life has a critical impact on children’s well-being and achievement.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework requires a child’s key worker to seek to engage and support parents and/or carers in guiding their child’s development at home. They should also help families engage with more specialist support if appropriate. Ofsted inspect registered providers against these requirements.

The Department recognises early education improves the life chances of children and that is why we have extended free childcare to around 40% of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds. This means more parents than ever are benefitting from being in regular contact with an early years practitioner and understand what to expect and how to support their child’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. The Department encourages early years providers, including children centres, to use their outreach services in promoting the importance of a positive early home learning environment to parents.

I am also working closely with Ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health to ensure that closer working between early years practitioners and Health Visitors means that parents can benefit from both sets of professional expertise in getting a rounded picture of their child’s development at age two. This new policy of integrated reviews supports early intervention, which we know can improve outcomes. Working with Public Health England I plan to provide more information to parents to help them understand the developmental milestones and expectations for young children, and help them to feel more confident in how they can support that development as parents.

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