A manifesto commitment from the Liberal Democrats to triple the early years pupil premium has been welcomed by the Pre-school Learning Alliance.
The early years pupil premium, which currently stands at £300 and is aimed at disadvantaged children aged three to four, would be raised to £1,000, if they manage to remain in a Coalition Government.
Outlining party plans and reflecting on developments of the last few years, Schools Minister David Laws said:
“Liberal Democrats have delivered huge amounts for the early years in our time in Government. We have given extra free hours of early years education to all three year olds, and introduced free early years education to two year olds from the most hard pressed homes. We have introduced new Early Years Teachers, and we vetoed Tory plans that would have meant adults looking after up to six two year olds at the same time.
“By committing this extra money to help the youngest disadvantaged children in society, we will ensure that they get the best possible start in life and have an opportunity to get on.
“Investing in early years is one of the best ways to build the fairer society that Liberal Democrats want to see and we are ambitious about delivering for future generations. This extra investment will mean a huge amount of support for the people who need it most and demonstrates our strong commitment to education.”
In response, Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch, said: “We warmly welcome the news of Liberal Democrats plans to more than triple the early years pupil premium.
“While the introduction of the current premium was a step in the right direction, at 53p per child per hour, it is likely to do little to address the current funding shortfall and will provide limited additional support to childcare providers.
“The sector has long argued that a significant increase in funding is needed if we are to ensure that all children, and particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are able to access high-quality early years care and education. As such, it is encouraging to see a political party openly recognising the need for, and value of, greater investment in the early years sector, and we hope this will be reflected in all party manifestos ahead of next year’s election.”
The early years pupil premium will be available to children in England from April 2015.