NAHT recovery blueprint calls for government to prioritise early years

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has published ‘A blueprint for a stronger and fairer system for all’ which sets out recommendations for the government to include in its own, as yet unpublished, ‘recovery report’.NAHT logo

The first recommendation from NAHT’s blue print is to prioritise the early years. Other recommendations are: 
  • Improve support for mental health and wellbeing
  • Invest in the teaching profession
  • Provide targeted academic support for pupils who need it
  • Expand extra-curricular provision and invest in extra-curricular providers
  • Invest in school technology
  • Remove unnecessary burdens and distractions.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, NDNA’s Chief Executive, said: “We really welcome these recommendations from the NAHT and it should not be a surprise that their top recommendation is to prioritise early years. 

“Early years must always be at the top of the government agenda and this is what we have been lobbying government about for a long time.

“Research shows that high quality early education gives all children the best start in life and also helps to reduce inequalities in attainment. But any investment must be significant and meaningful to make a real difference following years of underfunding. Investing in a child’s early years actually saves money later in life.

“Currently private, voluntary and independent nurseries who deliver the vast majority of funded childcare places are really struggling with both sustainability and recruitment. Lower attendance levels and fewer paid-for children compared to Government-funded children is leaving nurseries with lower income to pay higher operating costs as a result of Covid measures. Three quarters of nurseries had to fully or partially close since November due to positive cases, resulting in further lost income.  

“Recruiting qualified staff is now also a key challenge and some nurseries are having to reduce the numbers of places they can offer. 
“Early years professionals must be better supported with investment in training and skills so they can properly care for and educate our youngest children, many of whom have challenges and difficulties resulting from Covid restrictions.”

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Schools have gone to incredible lengths in order to protect and care for pupils in the most unimaginably challenging of times. There is no doubt that this vital work helped to shield large numbers of children from the worst effects of the pandemic.

“While the government has been deliberating, school staff have already been quietly, but determinedly, getting on with the crucial task of supporting pupils. In fact, this work never stopped. It is essential that the recovery effort of the next few years recognises and builds on the excellent work that has already been done. Simplistic ‘bolt-on’ measures will not work and should be avoided.

“The government has promised that the recovery effort will see ‘no child will be left behind’. That is the right approach. But it is also a big promise. The only way the government keeps that promise is by fully backing the recovery effort with ambitious funding too.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that in today’s unsettled world this country’s long term future depends on the young people in school and college now. We have to give them everything we can to help them make a better fist of it than we have. A failure to invest in education is a failure to invest in the nation’s future.

“The government has an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of young people, both in the short and long term. But this will only come true if there is significant new investment from the Treasury to support the good work of schools. NAHT is being deliberately ambitious. The UK government cannot let other countries steal a march on us with their investment when we throw crumbs at our own version. The question we have posed in this report is – ‘just how ambitious are the government prepared to be?’”

Find out more here.