Children: Disadvantaged

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd July 2022.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Labour, Swansea West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make an assessment of the potential implications for his policies of the conclusions on inequality in early childhood in the report by the Nuffield Foundation entitled The changing face of early childhood in Britain, published on 12 July 2022.

Photo of Brendan Clarke-Smith Brendan Clarke-Smith The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Education is a devolved matter, and the response outlines the information for England only.

At the 2021 Autumn Budget, the department announced a £302 million package to transform services for parents and babies, carers, and children, through a new network of family hubs in half of local authorities in England. This includes £50 million over 3 years for parenting support programmes and over £26 million to train practitioners in supporting parents to improve the home learning environment. We are also investing up to £180 million to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the early years. This includes up to £17 million on the Nuffield Early Language Intervention, aimed at improving the language skills of reception age children who need it most. Two thirds of primary schools have already signed up for this proven programme, benefitting around 90,000 disadvantaged four and five year olds in their reception year.

All parents of three and four year olds are eligible for 15 hours of free early education per week. Additionally, parents who earn the equivalent of 16 hours per week at National Minimum or Living Wage can benefit from the full 30 hours of free childcare, which can help save families up to £6,000 a year per child.

On 4 July, the department announced measures to increase the take-up of childcare support and reduce the costs and bureaucracy facing providers. We have launched two new consultations, one to reform the staff to child ratios required in early years settings and to make explicit the requirement of supervision of children whilst eating, and the other to reform how early years funding is distributed, so that the system is fair and effective. These plans give providers more flexibility and autonomy and ensure families can access government support to save them money on their childcare bills.

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