EPI recovery plans for early years education   

A new report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has revealed that a three-year funding package totalling £13.5bn will be required by the government to reverse the damage to pupils’ learning as a result of the pandemic.Education Policy Institute logo

Education recovery and resilience in England, Phase 1 sets out fully costed-education three-year recovery plans including plans for early years. 

Recovery for younger children: early years education 

Schools alone should not be left to provide support – the recovery must also include support for younger children in the early years – where high quality education and care can play a decisive role, says the report. Policies proposed include:
  • Increase funding for the Early Years Pupil Premium: bringing it up to the same rate as primary aged pupils. (3-year cost: £400m)
  • Fund a pilot study into the effect of higher quality early years education on young children: government funding for early years providers is below the OECD average. A pilot would provide evidence on the impact of high-quality provision funded at a higher rate than what is currently provided. (3-year cost: £83m).

The report highlights the drop in attendance levels in early years settings and that the EYPP is funded at a considerably lower rate than the Pupil Premium: £302 per child per year (pre-Reception), compared to £1,345 in primary school.

The report says: The evidence is clear that high quality early education and care plays a positive role in raising attainment and narrowing the achievement gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their wealthier peers

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “Time and again we have made the case that early years is the best time to invest in a child’s lifelong learning. There is a wide range of evidence to support this and today’s report underlines that fact.

“Plans for educational recovery have to focus on giving every child access to high quality early education and care. This is the most effective measure to reduce the attainment gap, which has been made worse due to the pandemic.

“It is completely illogical to provide lower levels of support to disadvantaged children in early years compared to primary school so the early years pupil premium must match the primary school rate. However, this is just one part of the funding picture. The sector has been chronically underfunded for years and that has to be addressed to ensure children get the best possible start in life.

“Every pound spent in early years, especially in areas of deprivation or focusing on supporting children with additional needs, pays dividends later on and saves money in the long-term. This must be central to any policy around education recovery and supported by meaningful investment.” 

Read the report here.