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Labour promises a “renewed focus on the early years”

By Rachel Lawlerplaying blocks children's recovery plan

Labour has promised to deliver a “renewed focus on the early years” if it wins the next election, as part of its Children’s Recovery Plan.

Speaking at the National Education Union’s annual conference, Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said that the party would increase the early years pupil premium from £302 a year to £1,345 a year.

Children's Recovery Plan
The party said that this investment was equivalent to “almost 21 million hours of funded childcare”.

The pledges are part of the party’s Children’s Recovery Plan, which proposes policies for allowing all children to “play, learn and develop in the post-Covid period”.

"unavailable and unaffordable"
Phillipson said that under the current Conservative government, childcare is becoming “unavailable and unaffordable”.

Phillipson said: “The Conservatives are sacrificing children’s futures in their utter failure to deliver a proper recovery plan for our children. Labour has been clear for months - we would be delivering the recovery plan that children need, want and deserve, with investment in early childcare supporting our youngest children.

“As parents battle rising costs of living, soaring childcare costs make life ever harder for families. Tory inaction means children are being priced out of opportunity.”

"A step in the right direction
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance, commented: “We welcome the fact that Labour has recognised the huge impact the pandemic has had on the early learning and development of many young children, and there’s no doubt that a pledge to increase the early years pupil premium is a step in the right direction.

"That said, it is vital that this forms part of a wider package of much-needed early years investment, as increasing pupil premium alone, without taking any further action to ensure that our vital sector remains financially sustainable, is not enough to alleviate the significant challenges facing the sector.

“Early years providers have been a vital lifeline for parents during an extremely challenging period, and we know how important quality early education and care is to children’s long-term development. But unless funding rates for the early entitlement offers increase substantially, we will see more and more settings forced to closed and the sector will continue to lose qualified professionals as a result of low pay, making it extremely unlikely that there will enough places available for the young children who need them.

“As such, we hope that this commitment is part of a much wider packages of measures that Labour plans to roll out that ensure that our sector is given adequate financial support to ensure that providers can continue to deliver the high-quality care and education that children and families need and deserve.”