Alliance comments on Sutton Trust social mobility report

Commenting on ‘Closing the regional attainment gap’, published today by the Sutton Trust, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance (formerly the Pre-school Learning Alliance), said:

“We share the Sutton Trust’s concerns that early years policy in this country is now focused on the provision of childcare as a route to encourage parents back to work, rather than high-quality education that supports children’s early learning, and it is deeply worrying that current debates about childcare rarely, if ever, mention quality. 

"We know that the first five years of a child’s life are critical for their long-term development. As such, it’s vital that the government invests what is needed to ensure the provision of childcare that's not only affordable for parents and sustainable for providers, but also delivers the quality of care and education that young children both need and deserve.

“The report is also right to criticise the widespread closure and downgrade of children’s centres across the country. These services play an absolutely vital role in supporting children and families – and particularly those from more vulnerable backgrounds – and yet, the government seems to have abandoned any attempts to develop a coherent, sustainable long-term strategy in this area.

“Ministers talk so often about the need to close the attainment gap as early as possible, but to date, have failed to back up with their rhetoric with action. If the government wants to improve the life chances of all children, and especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, then it needs to invest more in the sector that is pivotal to making this happen: the early years.”





  • The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country. 
  • The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.
  • The Alliance website is
  • The Alliance’s Fair Future Funding campaign currently has over 7,000 practitioner and parent supporters.
  • On 18 February 2019, the Pre-school Learning Alliance will be rebranding to the Early Years Alliance