Unclear how much of £700 million education recovery allocated to early years

The Government today announced a £700million investment to help children catch up on missed learning and development – but only a small amount earmarked for early years and reception.

The package of support will focus on school children but with £18 million to support “the development of disadvantaged children in early years settings.”

But the early years sector – which barely features in the package of measures – has not been consulted on the direction of the investment.

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “We are extremely concerned about children’s early development and this must be addressed before we have a major crisis on our hands. 

“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen low attendance in early years settings particularly the most vulnerable children. The majority of providers have been open throughout the pandemic and know there are much wider challenges for providers, practitioners and families including language development.

“A mere £18 million for children under five out of a pot of £300 million is just a drop in the ocean. It is not clear if any of this investment is intended for private, voluntary and independent settings to be able to support children and families who desperately need continued support with the emotional and physical development of their children.

“The early years sector was not consulted on this recovery fund but we could have given a clear direction as to what the priorities are for very young children and their families. Providers and practitioners work closely with parents and they are best placed to identify the needs of children. 

“Early years practitioners are also struggling to deal with the challenges that children are facing, with many more presenting with more complex issues such as family breakdowns and mental illness. These practitioners are doing their best but need more support and training to help them deal with the consequences of this dreadful pandemic, both the effects of the actual disease but also the impacts of the restrictions.

“It really is time that the Government realised that investing more in early years education gives a far greater return than money spent later on in their educational journey. 

“We have offered our support to discuss this in more detail with the DfE and it’s time that early learning and development is prioritised to reduce the attainment gap for the benefit of society in general.”

Read the full announcement here.  

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our package of measures will deliver vital support to the children and young people who need it most, making sure everyone has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential no matter their background.

“I know that longer-term support over the length of this parliament will be vital to ensure children make up for lost learning. Our Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, will be engaging with teachers, school and college leaders and families.”