Charities call for early years teachers to lead all nurseries in poor areas

By Joe Lepper

| 06 September 2017

A coalition of early years leaders, academics and charities is calling on the government to ensure all nurseries in deprived areas are led by a qualified early years teacher within the next three years.

All group childcare settings should be funded to appoint an early years teacher within three years, a coalition of charities have said

The Fair Education Alliance is proposing the move as part of a raft of recommendations to improve social mobility and life chances for England's poorest children.

It wants to see ministers commit to ensuring that every early years group setting in the 30 per cent most deprived areas in England is headed up by an early years teacher or equivalent by 2020. 

The Alliance's Report Card 2016/17 details particular concerns that there has been a decline in recruitment of early years teachers and is calling for all group settings to be given sufficient funding to recruit and retain such professionals.

In February, Alliance member Save the Children calculated that 10,000 more nursery teachers were needed. Without access to these qualified professionals, this group of children are 10 per cent less likely to meet their expected levels of development, the charity also found.

"Support for the continued development of the childcare and early education workforce should be a top priority," states the Report Card.

"Our long-term ambition is for all group settings to be led by an early years teacher or equivalent, supported by well-qualified staff at all levels.

"Initially, the government should commit to working with the sector to ensure that every group setting serving the 30 per cent most deprived areas in England is led by an early years teacher or equivalent by 2020."

Other measures being called for to improve social mobility include automatic registration for free school meal and pupil premium funding. Its report card details how around 200,000 eligible children are not claiming free school meals, with the stigma attached acting as a barrier to registration.

In addition, all primary and secondary schools should have a designated and trained leader responsible for improving careers and further education guidance. All schools should also have access to a set of tools to measure children's social and emotional competencies.

Other concerns raised in the Report Card include slow progress in narrowing the literacy and numeracy gap between primary school children from low-income families and their peers, which only dropped from 8.4 months to 8.2 months last year.

Poorer pupils are four times more likely to be permanently excluded and the gap in university entry between children from low-income families and their peers increased during 2016, the first rise since 2010.

"Inequality in education is still deeply entrenched in our country and our Report Card is a stark reminder of the scale of the challenge," said Alliance chair Sir Richard Lambert.

"The government must address the funding crisis in schools - freezing school budgets in a time of rising inflation will only make the journey more difficult.

"As the UK seeks to reposition itself in the world, it becomes more crucial than ever that our young people are able to fulfil their potential irrespective of their parental background."

Liz Bayram, chief executive of Alliance member, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, added: "We know there is a strong evidence that graduate-led early years settings make a huge difference to children's early attainment.

"We need focused government investment that ensures we stem the decline in the number of early years graduate leaders and encourages more to work in our most deprived areas. This is critical to closing the educational inequalities gap so many children currently experience."

Alliance members also include the National Children's Bureau, and universities including UCL Institute of Education.

blog comments powered by Disqus