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Raising the status of early years workers and improving the quality of early years teaching have been highlighted as key issues for the Liberal Democrats in its manifesto.
Nick Clegg revealed plans to increase the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per pupil per year. The premium currently offers up to £300 per pupil per year of additional funding for settings to improve the education they give disadvantaged three and four year olds.
The party has also pledged to protect family support services offered in Children’s Centres and ensure that every formal early years setting has at least one employee with an Early Years Teacher Qualification by 2020, if the party were to get into government.
The manifesto laid out plans to encourage integration between Children’s Centres and other community services, such as health visitors, to review the advice and support given to parents on issues like early child nutrition and breastfeeding.
The Liberal Democrat Manifesto stated: “Liberal Democrats have put education at the heart of our agenda for a generation. We believe every child deserves a great start in life, and are determined to make sure that the education system finds and nurtures the best in everyone. This is essential in order to break down the unfair divisions in our society, and to ensure a productive, competitive economy. Too many people have their chances in life determined by who their parents are, rather than by their own efforts and abilities. With our Pupil Premium, investing in children who might otherwise fall behind, we are finally tackling the scandalous gap in exam results between rich and poor, but we must do even more.
“Children start learning from the moment they are born, so parents need to be supported right from the start. Our plan stretches from cradle to college: high-quality early years education; qualified teachers and successful schools in every community; more money helping the children who need it most; flexible choices for teenagers and young people; and world-class training at college and university to set every young adult on the path to a fulfilled working life.”
The Lib Dems have also committed to identifying special educational needs and disability in children at the earliest stage possible, to ensure faster diagnosis can allow targeted support and lead to better prepared primary schools.