The National Union of Headteachers (NAHT) has recommended that investment in the early years of education should be at the heart of the Government’s educational recovery plan. In a blueprint published on 26 May, the NAHT calls for urgent changes to the current system to give young children the best possible start in life, Nursery World reports.
With so many children missing out on vital first experiences of learning, socialising, and mental stimulation during the past 15 months, significant levels of investment and effort will be needed to avoid lifelong disadvantages for these age groups. It is thought many children will need an extra boost to their wellbeing and social development in the coming months.
The NAHT singles out the level of funded childcare provided for working parents, and the funding that providers receive to deliver the offer, for particular criticism, describing it as ‘insufficient.’ It says of the current 30-hours funded policy:
‘The current policy means that only children of parents currently in work benefit from the funded hours in an early years setting. This means that some of the most disadvantaged children are potentially missing out. The policy needs to be recast so that it is focused on providing equal access to high-quality early education for all children.’
The Union also calls for the early years pupil premium to be increased to the level of primary pupils. It argues that early intervention prevents problems from building up, and helps children from less privileged backgrounds to get more from their education.
The NAHT also backs up the calls from the Sutton Trust to provide funding for the continuous professional development for the early years workforce, arguing that high quality training should be an entitlement for workers in this sector.
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