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Government reshuffle sees childcare minister Caroline Dinenage depart

16-Jun-17
Article By: Angeline Albert

Caroline Dinenage, the minister who had portfolio responsibility for early years, has moved Government departments to join the Department of Work and Pensions, following a post-election reshuffle. Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage left early years post at DfE to join DWP

Working as the junior minister for Women, Equalities and Early Years since 17 July 2016, Ms Dinenage’s last day as childcare minister was 13 June and the Department for Education is yet to confirm who will replace her in the role.

On 16-17 June, Childcare Expo Manchester 2017 takes place with no Government minister scheduled to attend.

Elected Conservative MP for Gosport, Stubbington, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head in 2010, Ms Dinenage chose London's Childcare Expo last March to make two key announcements.

To claps and cheers, she told nursery managers on the opening morning of the show on 3 March, that the Government was overturning the requirement for Level 3 early-years practitioners to hold GCSEs in Maths and English, as part of the Government's Early Years Workforce strategy. Instead Level 2 Functional Skills qualifications in both subjects will be sufficient.

Ms Dinenage said she hoped the move, which came into effect on 3 April, would boost staffing in the sector. During the speech, she also announced the publication of the new Early Years Foundation Stage framework, which took effect from 3 April, with updates to first-aid qualification requirements.

At the time, Julie Hyde, associate director of CACHE, the organisation that led the Save Our Early Years Campaign, said: “It takes leadership to change tack, and Caroline Dinenage deserves real credit for genuinely listening to the sector, hearing our concerns and changing the policy.'

The MP became Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance at the DWP this week.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said: "We wish Caroline Dinenage well for her new role at the Department of Work and Pensions and look forward to meeting the new Childcare Minister when they are appointed. The urgent matter of funding for 30 hours, of course, will be the sector's first priority for the new minister's attention."

Ms Dinenage’s departure from the DfE follows Edward Timpson’s departure as children’s minister from Government after the Conservative MP lost his Crewe and Nantwich seat to Labour by 48 votes.

On the question of who the next early years minister would be, an announcement is expected shortly. A spokeswoman for the DfE said: “We are still working on portfolios at the moment.”

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