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Labour announces plans for “free nursery education for all”

By Rachel Lawler

Angela Rayner Labour free childcare

Labour has announced plans to offer “free nursery education for all” at its annual conference in Brighton.

Angela Rayner, shadow secretary of state for education, shared the party’s plans for education if it were to win the next election. She said: “We will deliver a renewed Sure Start programme, Sure Start Plus.

“Alongside it we will introduce a new service: free nursery education for all two- to four year-olds. Not childcare on the cheap, to get parents back to work, but an early education service, led by professionals, designed to develop the whole child.”

Scrapping Ofsted

Labour has also revealed plans to abolish Ofsted and replace it with a “new inspectorate for education” as part of a “National Education Service”. It says that the current system will be replaced with regular ‘health checks’ led by local authorities and a more in-depth inspection led by trained full-time inspectors.

Raynor said: “The current system is unfit for purpose, so the next Labour government will abolish Ofsted and replace it with a system that will give parents the reliable and in-depth information they need.”

Sector concerns

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “Proposals to create more funded hours and reinvest in Sure Start would mean more children have access to a quality early education. It’s an offer that could transform the lives of some of our most disadvantaged children and should be welcomed by anyone interested in social mobility.

“That said, even without seeing the detail we can be confident these proposals represent an unprecedented financial commitment to early education spending. And that will concern childcare providers, especially when thousands have closed in recent years, many as a direct result of governments overpromising ‘free’ childcare in elections and underfunding in delivery.

“No more ‘childcare on the cheap’ sounds like a promise to address that - but it’s very light on detail and the early years funding shortfall stands at almost two thirds of a billion pounds. Broadly speaking, these proposals represent a move in the right direction but, without a firm commitment to ensure funding matches the true cost of delivery, the sector will struggle to take them seriously.”

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