Less than a fifth understand the importance of the early years, survey finds
By Rachel Lawler
New research commissioned by the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has found that just 17% of the public understand the unique importance of the early years relative to other development stages.
Conducted by Ipsos UK, the survey asked 4,682 adults about their views on early childhood development. The Duchess of Cambridge will also discuss the results at a roundtable event with the early years sector.
The survey also found that 91% agree that the early years are important and 70% believe that it should be “more of a priority for society as a whole”.
The Duchess of Cambridge commented: “Our experiences in early childhood fundamentally impact our whole life and set the foundation for how we go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.
“The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up all of our agendas. There is more we can all do – every member of society can play a key role, whether that is directly with a child or by investing in the adults around them – the parents, the carers, the early years workforce and more.
“If we come together to raise the importance of early childhood development, we’ll soon see that healthy, happy individuals make for a healthier, happier world. Which is why every second we spend with a child, is an investment in our collective future.”
“Disappointing, but not surprising”
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance, said: "It's disappointing, but sadly not at all surprising, that less than a fifth of the general public are aware of the unique importance of the first five years of a child's life.
"Despite a wealth of research showing how critical the early years are to children's long-term development, all too often discussions about this critical stage of life are focused on the provision of childcare and the need for children to be 'looked after' while their parents work, rather than the provision of quality early education that effectively supports early learning.
"Given the profile of the Royal Foundation and the ongoing work of the Duchess of Cambridge on this important issue, we warmly welcome her call for greater investment in the adults who support children in their earliest years, including the early years workforce.
"At a time when government policy threatens to undermine and devalue the work of our vital sector, we hope that these findings give ministers real pause for thought."
Find out more
You can read the Royal Foundation’s report in full here