Alliance responds to Damian Hinds speech on social mobility

Commenting on education secretary Damian Hinds’ speech on social mobility at today’s Resolution Foundation event, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“We have always said that parents are their children’s primary educators and so the education secretary is right to highlight the importance of the home learning environment in improving social mobility in the early years. Unfortunately, the government’s actions to date on this simply haven’t matched its rhetoric, and it is incredibly disappointing that a speech about this important issue failed to highlight to the role of one of the most crucial sources of early and family support: children’s centres.

“If it is the case, as Mr Hinds argues, that many parents would benefit from ‘extra support and advice’ in encouraging the development of their children’s early communication skills, why has the government all but abandon its children’s centre policy? It’s now three years since the Department for Education promised – but failed to deliver – a review into the future of these vital services and in the time since, many have been forced to close their doors as a result of sustained funding cuts.

“If the government is truly committed to ‘closing the gap’, it should stopping dragging its feet, and confirm exactly how it plans to safeguard the future of children’s centres and ensure that those families that need it most have access to the early support services that they need.”


Commenting on Mr Hinds’ assertion that: “It is a persistent scandal that we have children starting school not able to communicate in full sentences, not able to read simple words”, Neil said:

“It’s important to remember that children naturally learn and develop a different rates and so, while it’s of course vital that a child’s educational progress isn’t defined by their family background or income, suggesting that some children not being able to read full sentences at the start of reception – when most children are just four-years-old – is a ‘scandal’ is a vastly overly-simplistic take on what is a complex and nuanced issue.”