I was encouraged to open the Times on Sunday morning and see that Professor Kathy Sylva, whom I have met several times and really admire, had written an interesting piece stating that ‘that nursery does the “vast majority” of children under two no harm at all.’ She argues that those who attend average to high-quality nurseries will be able to form better relationships at primary school. The full article makes interesting reading and endorses our work to reduce staff turnover and drive forward quality in all our settings.
However, yesterday morning the Office for National Statistics published research that showed that the huge investment by the last Government in Early Years has made no impact against their measures of success in improving standards for children. One commentator I read summed it up well really; no one policy was ever going to solve all the problems – getting women back into work, eradicating child poverty, levelling the playing field for children and raising standards. We are now left with a bit of a mess; we have a heavily regulated childcare sector, which has a ‘universal entitlement’ which doesn’t really help children from disadvantaged backgrounds any more than those who have a better start in life, but the entitlement is costing billions of pounds. At present the Government have confirmed that the Early Years Entitlement will rlse, as planned, to 15 hours from September, but in many ways the ONS report could not have come at a worse time. With deep cuts expected from every part of Government, how keen will Local Authorities be to ring fence the EYE? One thing is for sure, if the amount allocated for each session is allowed to decrease, providers will have to make some hard decisions and I predict many will pull out of the scheme all together.