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The head of a charity, which works to break the link between family income and educational achievement, is urging nurseries to spend the Early Years Pupil Premium wisely.
The extra funding for disadvantaged children will be available to children in England from April 2015, with £300 allocated per disadvantaged child.
The £50m fund has been launched to help boost the development of children from disadvantaged families and the Department for Education revealed in its consultation that it will be up to nurseries how they spend the money.
Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), which recently announced an extension of its remit to include early years provision, said: “This September, a new group of three year-olds started at nursery school. Excited, apprehensive… and that’s just their parents. But behind the beaming smiles (and occasional fleeting tears) there is a blunt reality.
“An attainment gap between those children from low-income families and their peers has already opened up. Research has shown that differences in children’s cognitive development linked to parental background can be seen as early as 22 months. Studies indicate that by their fifth birthday many of the highest early achievers from deprived backgrounds have been overtaken by lower achieving children from advantaged backgrounds.”
He added: “That’s the bad news. The good news is this: there is nothing inevitable about this trajectory. Children from low-income families are just as capable of achieving well at nursery as their friends from better-off backgrounds. And the better news is there will soon be additional money for early years providers to help them close the gap.
“From April 2015, the Government will be extending its Pupil Premium to allocate an additional £300 for every 3-4 year-old eligible for free school meals. That money could make a difference – if it is spent wisely. That’s where I hope the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) can help.”
When Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, made the announcement about the Early Years Pupil Premium, earlier this year, he said: “Boys and girls from poorer families have often already fallen 19 months behind their better off classmates by the time they hang up their coat on the first day of school. Increasing their chances of success has got to be a top priority.”
Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation will be speaking at the 4Children Early Years Pupil Premium conference on Thursday 23 October 2014.