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Liberal Democrat News 22nd June 2012

June 22, 2012 11:07 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Concentrating on the early years

This week the Coalition government pressed ahead with more measures to improve the provision of early years education and childcare support for parents. Reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, a commission on the cost of childcare was launched and the Nutbrown Review on skills in the early years sector was published.
The new push is central to the Coalition's aim of improving social mobility at a time of rising costs. The Liberal Democrat tax cut is putting more money into parents' pockets, but the Coalition government is determined to
help more.

Childcare commission
This week, Children's Minister Sarah Teather, together jointly with the Minister of State for Disabled People, were asked to look at how to reduce the costs to families and the burdens on childcare providers. The commission will:

  • explore the effectiveness of current government support,
  • identify unnecessary red tape that increases costs but doesn't increase quality,
  • look at how to encourage childcare after school and in the holidays - so-called wrap-around care, and
  • look at international examples to see what we can learn from different models of childcare support.

Nutbrown report
Professor Nutbrown's report - Foundations for Quality - on early education and childcare qualifications has been welcomed by the Coalition. Her central message is one the government fully endorses - that the quality of the workforce matters for children's life chances. Staff with the right skills, knowledge, and passion can help provide transformative experiences for babies and young children.
We all accept the importance of excellent and motivated staff in schools. Professor Nutbrown has helped reinforce the point that well qualified, highly skilled staff in the early years are able have a similar impact. This is an important message, particularly as the Coalition expands opportunities for two-, three-, and four-year-olds.

Professor Nutbrown also raised some concerns - about the current state of early years qualifications and how they are delivered - as well as some ambitious and far reaching recommendations. The government will now study the report in detail, working with the sector and others, before responding later in the year.