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Justine Greening announces £50m funding for school nurseries
OnDec 14, 2017
By Rachel Lawler
Education secretary Justine Greening has announced plans to tackle social mobility in the UK, including £50m in funding for school nurseries. The plan aims to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Greening announced the plans in a speech given at the Social Mobility Conference in London. The Department for Education has also shared a new policy paper, called Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential, detailing the plans.
Greening said that tackling social mobility was the “smart thing to do for our country and our economy”. She said: “No one should be held back because of who they are or where they are born.” She identified the early years as “the cornerstone of social mobility” and said that too many children still fall behind early on.
The report outlines the government’s plans to “Close the ‘word gap’ in the early years”. It says that by age three, disadvantaged children are an average of 18 months behind their more advantaged peers in their early language development.
£5m for school-based nurseries
The government plans to invest £5 million in identifying and implementing a home-learning programme to support early language development. It will also work with Public Health England to help early years practitioners check children’s early language development.
The report also promises an additional £50 million in funding to be spent on creating school-based nursery provision for disadvantaged children. The report also pledged to identify communities with low take-up of early education and provide bespoke support to help improve this.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented on the plans: “While, in theory, the government’s plan to put education at the heart of efforts to improve social mobility is a positive one, this kind of rhetoric only has value if it is backed up by meaningful action - and unfortunately, such action has been lacking to date.”
Neil added: "While, in theory, the government's plan to put education at the heart of efforts to improve social mobility is a positive one, this kind of rhetoric only has value if it is backed up by meaningful action - and unfortunately, such action has been lacking to date.
"Research has shown that investment into the early years is the most effective way to improve children's long-term life chances, and yet, for years now, the sector has been chronically underfunded. As a result, we've seen quality early years providers across the country being forced out of business, while
many children's centres have been reduced to offering little more than a skeleton service, if they haven't closed down all together.
"A commitment to improving access to early language and literacy is of course welcome, but quality early years provision is so much more than this - and until the government is willing to fund the whole sector adequately, it's hard to see plans to improve social mobility being anything more than an aspiration.
"The education secretary is right to say that where you start in life often decides where you finish. It's time, then, that the government put its money where its mouth is and invested what's needed to ensure that all children get the start they deserve."
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