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Enhanced professional skills and more hours of available childcare for parents are two key issues, the British Association for Early Childhood Education wants to see prioritised by the next Government.
Outlined within an open letter to the political leaders, the President and Vice Presidents of the Association stress that further investment is needed to upgrade the quality of the early years workforce, with a graduate-led profession essential in empowering the sector to get the best results.
President of Early Education, Professor Tony Bertram comments: “This election has seen promises to increase the number of hours of childcare for working families, and much less discussion about the quality of early education, especially for the most disadvantaged children. Every child has the right to the best possible start in life, including high quality care and education delivered by a well-qualified workforce. This may cost a little more, but all the evidence shows that it is an investment not a cost, with beneficial impacts on the educational achievement and well-being of our poorest children.”
An estimated two in five day nurseries currently have no graduate staff, but the open letter points to several additional sources of expertise to support this key priority, including a House of Lords Committee on Affordable Childcare, the Nuffield Foundation, charity Save the Children and research body the World Bank.
Chief executive of Early Education, Beatrice Merrick, says: “Politicians of all parties clearly think offering more hours of free childcare will appeal to parents, but they need to look rigorously at the evidence of whether that is a good use of scarce public funds. One clear lesson from every previous expansion of early years provision is that quality does not keep up with quantity when the sector is pressured to grow too fast.”
daynurseries.co.uk director Davina Ludlow says: “As the Early Education’s open letter highlights, it is vital that the quality of our early years education is not diluted by focussing on increasing the quantity of it.
“The Government needs to concentrate on ensuring there is consistent high quality provision through workforce development and increasing staff ratios.
“Steps like ensuring all early years staff are encouraged to become highly-trained early educators and Early Years Teachers are given Qualified Teacher Status, as well as increases in pay, would go a long way in helping to achieve this.
“The first five years of a child’s life are vital in shaping the adult they will become – whatever their background – as they all have the right to reach their full potential."