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Government decisions threaten to decimate quality early childhood education and care in England and undermine their own agenda to support the most disadvantaged families first and foremost.
For immediate release: Wednesday 24th November 2010.
The British Association of Early Childhood Education (Early Education) has warned that recent Government decisions threaten to decimate quality early childhood education and care and undermine the government agenda to support all families but particularly the most disadvantaged families.
Early Education is particularly concerned about:
· the policy drive to move away from an emphasis on universal services to one where there is an emphasis on targeting only the most disadvantaged families and children. Studies have shown that including children living in low-income, or otherwise at risk families, in provision with more advantaged children, supports those more disadvantaged children to do better.
· the removal of the ring-fencing of many early years grants while school budgets remain protected. This has resulted in a situation where many local authorities are choosing not to spend their entire Sure Start allocation on services for young children and their families which in turn is leaving the youngest children and their families extremely vulnerable.
· the use of the Localism Bill to allow the private, voluntary and independent sectors to challenge local authorities to put services out to tender, so that these organisations might be much more involved in the running of children’s centres. This will undermine already established and highly effective provision, much of which results in partnership with maintained nursery and primary schools and risks resulting in the loss of this quality provision.
· the removal of the requirement for Sure Start Children’s Centres to offer full daycare in the most deprived areas, which the government states is largely unused and taking resources away from the frontline. Early Education believes that this announcement is potentially the most devastating blow to individual disadvantaged families and their children. Without the requirement and subsequent funding for Children’s Centres to offer subsidised full daycare and early childhood education, it will prove impossible to support many parents’ return to study and work. Early Education is also concerned that the consequences of this announcement will also threaten the sustainability of provision that exists, largely where the ‘for profit’ provision has previously failed.
· the removal of the requirement to hire someone with both Qualified Teacher and Early Years Professional status as a means to reducing bureaucracy for professionals in Sure Start Children’s Centre in the most deprived areas .
Early Education has grave concerns that this change will inhibit the drive to ensure that all early childhood education settings deliver the highest quality early years provision. The evidence clearly shows that integrated centres and maintained nursery schools that combine education with care and have a higher proportion of trained teachers, promote better intellectual and social and emotional outcomes for children, particularly amongst disadvantaged children. Hiring and managing staff who hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and or the Early Years Professional (EYP) status is no more bureaucratic than hiring staff with lower level qualifications.
Megan Pacey, Chief Executive of Early Education says:
“Less than a month on from the Comprehensive Spending Review, indicators from local authorities and Children’s Centres show the decision to remove the ring-fencing of Sure Start funding is going to have devastating effects on early childhood education and care and support to the most vulnerable families in England.
“Announcements made by the Minister last week that were presented as measures to reduce bureaucracy and provide additional choice are likely to do nothing other than strip out further the number of established, quality Children’s Centres led by well qualified and skilled staff, supporting the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
“Early Education is urging the Minister of State for Children, Schools and Families to take a long hard look at the emerging consequences of the decisions she has taken so far and the impact that they are likely to have on the most disadvantaged families first and foremost.”
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For further information please contact:
Telephone: 0207 539 5400/ 07545 488 004
 Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., and Taggart, B. (eds)., Early Childhood Matters. Evidence from the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education project. (2010) Routledge.
 Ofsted inspections have judged 99 per cent of England’s maintained nursery schools, the majority of which are fully integrated with Children’s Centres as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. Ofsted, The Annual Report of her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2008/09. (2009). TSO.
 Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., and Taggart, B. (eds).,Early Childhood Matters. Evidence from the Effective Pre-school and Primary Education project. (2010) Routledge
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. This press release is a formal statement from the members of Early Education present at its AGM in London on Saturday 20th November 2010 and relates to England only.
2. The British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight, advising parents, central and local government and through the media. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit www.early-education.org.uk
Early Education is registered as a charity in England and Wales (Registered Number 313082) and Scotland (Registered Number SC039472).