Children's Play

Department for Education written question – answered on 27th May 2022.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to help ensure that opportunities for play will be encouraged, supported and facilitated through Early Years provision as part of covid-19 catch-up strategies; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

To support education recovery, the department is investing up to £180 million of recovery support in the early years (EY) sector. This will be used to build a stronger, more expert workforce, enabling education providers to deliver high quality teaching and help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the youngest children, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas. The support includes up to £153 million which will provide the opportunity for evidence-based professional development for EY practitioners.

New programmes will focus on key areas such as speech and language development, and physical and emotional development for the youngest children, for which play is an important part. The department is also investing up to £17 million for the Nuffield Early Language Intervention and up to £10 million for a second phase of the EY professional development programme in the 2021/22 academic year, targeted to support EY staff working with disadvantaged children.

The package will build on EY foundation stage reforms. These will support more effective EY curriculum and assessment, reducing unnecessary assessment paperwork so that practitioners and teachers can spend more time engaging children in enriching activities, including play, to support their learning.

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