On 27th October, the Chancellor outlined the 2021 spending review, with further early childhood related detail from Children and Families Minister following on from this.
The key announcements are:
- Government are investing additional funding for the early years entitlements worth £160m in 2022-23, £180m in 2023-24 and £170m in 2024-25. This is for local authorities to increase hourly rates paid to childcare providers for the government’s childcare entitlement offers and reflects the costs of inflation and national living wage increases
- £500 million over the next three years to transform ‘Start for Life’ and family help services in half of the council areas across England. This will fund a network of Family Hubs, Start for Life services, perinatal mental health support, breastfeeding services, and parenting programmes.
- Over £200 million a year for the continuation of the holiday activities and food programme, providing enriching activities and healthy meals for disadvantaged children during school holidays.
The Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN) is encouraged by this increase in funding and investment in early childhood and look forward to further detail regarding how this will be allocated.
We welcome further clarification on the following messages within the ‘Early Years Recovery programme’ outlined in the Foundation Years Factsheet (foundationyears.org, 2021):
Deliver a universal training offer, together with targeted support to leaders and practitioners, to create a more sustainable, self-supporting system;
Strengthen specialist expertise and leadership in the sector by boosting skills to develop children’s early language and maths, as well as their personal and social development;
Improve the capacity of the early years workforce to support children with special educational needs;
Train practitioners to support parents with home learning, which is one of the biggest drivers of early outcomes and future attainment.
The Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (ECSDN) recognise that our graduates are extremely well placed to support this agenda due to the holistic nature of our degrees. We therefore look forward to seeing how the Early Years Recovery Programme will support the workforce in terms of pay and status.
Early Childhood Studies is an academic discipline with interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working at its centre. Undergraduate, Postgraduate Students and alumni are equipped with outstanding knowledge and experience, and their expertise are essential in advocating for the health, well-being and education of all children and their families.
We believe that our work in producing Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies (ECSDN, 2018) which ‘make a significant contribution to strengthening a graduate-led Early Childhood workforce that is responsive to workforce needs and improves outcomes for children’ compliment the priorities outlined in the spending review. We therefore welcome further communication regarding our shared aims and commitment to a well-qualified and highly valued early childhood workforce.
Dr Helen Simmons
(ECSDN Vice Chair Policy, Lobbying and Advocacy)