Alliance welcomes sector support for early years manifesto

21st September 2015

Leading early years experts, academics and organisations have voiced their support for the Pre-school Learning Alliance’s Early Years Agenda manifesto.

Pacey, TACTYC, and early years experts David Whitebread and Penny Tassoni are among a number of high-profile sector representatives to formally endorse the manifesto, which outlines the organisation’s key calls to government on the areas of funding, schoolification and Ofsted.

The Agenda includes calls on government to:

  • work with the Alliance to undertake a full, in-depth review of the free entitlement funding system, including a large-scale analysis of the cost of delivering funded places
  • introduce a statutory requirement on local authorities to collect annual data from local providers on the cost of delivering free entitlement places
  • scrap the proposed baseline assessment and reinstate the EYFS Profile’s statutory status
  • bring early years inspections in-house
  • implement paid-for re-inspections, as legislated for by the Children and Families Act 2014.

The Agenda is intended to support not only government in the development of early years policy, but also practitioners who want to: understand the background to current early years policy issues; lobby politicians and local MPs on key issues, presenting fact-based arguments; inform parents and colleagues about the current challenges facing the sector and what can be done to tackle them; and find out more about the Alliance’s ongoing lobbying and campaigning work.

The manifesto is available to download for free online at our EY Agenda manifesto.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“With so many challenges facing the early years, it has never been more important for us to speak with a united voice - as such, we’re delighted that the Early Years Agenda has been endorsed by so many key figures within the sector. The more support it receives, the stronger the message to government, and so we hope that practitioners will join them in voicing support for the manifesto.

“We have already seen significant progress in a number of areas: the government is currently carrying out a long-called for review of early years funding, while Ofsted has committed to bring early years inspections in-house. But there is still much to do - and it can only be done if we as a sector work together.

“As such, we remain committed to working in partnership with colleagues across the sector - and with government - to push for necessary changes and to ensure that early years policy always, without exception, has the needs of the child at its centre, and is based on both objective evidence and consultation with the sector.”

For further information or to interview, Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance please contact:

Shannon Hawthorne

Pre-school Learning Alliance

T: 020 7697 2503

E: Shannon Hawthorne


Notes for editors

The Early Years Agenda manifesto has received the following endorsements:

“PACEY is supporting the Early Years Agenda because we share its concerns and believe the early year sector is stronger when organisations and individuals work together” - Liz Bayram, Pacey

“I endorse any endeavour in early years that, like the Alliance’s post-election manifesto, has at its heart evidence from research and the experience and expertise of those who are engaged in the sector. It is vital that government listens to the views of those who work in or represent the sector including academics whose research shapes the experiences we give to children. Policy works best where professionals are involved in its design and implementation. Children deserve a good start in life, the experiences they have in their early years shape the adults they become. It is important that they are helped to get that start through a properly funded early years system based on acknowledged best practice. The Alliance manifesto calls for government to listen to the sector to achieve such a system.” - Liz Elsom, early years consultant

“The time has come for early years practitioners to re-professionalise their work after decades of relentless de-professionalisation perpetrated by all political parties. This admirable manifesto offers recommendations that are child-centred (not politician-centred), evidence-based (not ideology-driven), and collaborative (not imposed) - surely this isn’t too much to ask for? It invites politicians to listen to professionals, and fundamentally to change their approach — and for our children’s sake, I wish them the wisdom, open mindedness and sound sense to do just that.” - Richard House, C.Psychol., formerly Universities of Winchester (Early Childhood) and Roehampton (Psychology); co-founder of the Too Much Too Soon, Early Childhood Action and Open EYE campaigns

“We agree that it’s vitally important for government to listen to both professionals and parents, and to ensure that policy reflects the best interests of children. Many ministers are now rightly concerned about the summer born issue, especially those children who are made to miss their reception year at school, or another year of their education. We are hopeful that this issue will be resolved." - Pauline Hull, campaigner, Summer Born Campaign Group

“Both the EU and OECD recognise that for policies to be more effective and relevant they should be informed by the direct knowledge and competencies of citizens and civil society organisations. The Alliance’s Early Years Agenda contains well-reasoned calls to action aimed at promoting the quality of children’s experiences in early years provision and their longer-term developmental outcomes. They deserve a wide hearing and careful consideration by the new government.” - Eva Lloyd, Professor of Early Childhood at University of East London

“Early Education endorses the Early Years Agenda as we believe that a high quality early years sector must be properly funded: private, voluntary, independent and maintained providers all need funding at levels that allows them to recruit, retain and develop high quality staff in order to deliver the quality early education which will make a difference to children’s futures. We support children’s rights to a rich play-based experience in the early years, and are concerned about the distorting impacts of initiatives such as baseline assessment and the phonics test which create counterproductive pressures to narrow and formalise children’s learning. We call on government to work with the early years sector and draw on its extensive knowledge and experience to deliver policies that really work for young children and families.” - Beatrice Merrick, Early Education

“TACTYC fully endorses the call from the Pre-school Learning Alliance for the needs of the child to be always at the centre of decision-making, for policy to be based on independent research evidence, and for genuine consultation with the early years sector at the beginning of all policy development.” - Jane Payler / Wendy Scott / Nancy Stewart, TACTYC

“The Early Years Agenda is a compelling read and will, I hope, promote discussion about the future direction of early years in England.” - Penny Tassoni, early years expert, author and trainer

“The Early Years Agenda highlights three important areas of concern in relation to the current support by the UK government for early childhood education, and proposes well-evidenced changes which need to be made to establish high quality provision throughout this sector. The concerns articulated about under-funding, about schoolification of the curriculum, and about the damaging impact of poor quality Ofsted inspections, are real and significant. The manifesto presents a clear and evidence-based case for radical change, and argues very persuasively for the needs of the child to be at the centre of early childhood education policy.” - Dr David Whitebread, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Education, University of Cambridge

“We find ourselves at an interesting point in educational history. We esteem evidence-based practice, yet there is much evidence we continue to ignore. This includes evidence on the critical importance of play, affection, and relationships during the early years of a child’s life. The Early Years Agenda manifesto published by the Pre-school Learning Alliance attempts to get us to look again at this evidence. How do we help politicians, professionals, and the public to grasp the importance of the insights it offers us? If we do not honour children’s biological need for playful, emotionally secure relationships, we damage not only them. We also block our ability to create the society we tell ourselves we are striving for.” - Suzanne Zeedyk, Honorary Fellow, University of Dundee


The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest voluntary sector provider of quality affordable childcare and education in England.

Through direct provision and its membership of 14,000 nurseries, sessional pre-schools and parent and toddler groups, the Alliance supports over 800,000 children and their families in England. The Alliance also develops and runs family learning programmes, offers information and advice, runs acclaimed training and accreditation programmes and campaigns to influence early years policy and practice.

For information about the Pre-school Learning Alliance, visit our website:

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