ECSDN response to the newly published manifesto by the Early Years Commission (July 2021), jointly run by the Centre for Social Justice and the Fabian Society. The manifesto aims to:
‘Transform the lives of our youngest children, including a significant shake up in parental leave rights and major support for the youngest children and their parents as part of the government’s ‘levelling up’ response post-Covid-19" (https://fabians.org.uk/publication/early-years-commission/)
The Early Years Commission makes the following recommendations, within the manifesto, launched on Thursday 8th July 2021:
- Government works with local authorities to develop dedicated, locally led parent support services in every community.
- Building a holistic, cross-departmental strategy on the early years, led by a cabinet minister.
- Rolling out children’s centres and family hubs across the country, prioritising disadvantaged areas
- Supporting the professional development of early years practitioners.
- Increasing compulsory interactions between children and health visitors.
- Building more support for the professional development of those who work in early years.
Click on the image to access The Early Years Commission Cross Party Manifesto
We welcome this manifesto and the central focus on the fundamental importance of early childhood and family support. It is heartening to see recognition, through the ‘the case for action’ (page 11) regarding the need to support childhood from conception, parental employment rights, and the importance of a highly qualified early years workforce.
We also support the recognition regarding life chances, underfunding within the sector, and the disproportionate impact of COVID19 on children from ethnic minorities and children with SEND. The Early Childhood Studies Degrees Network (https://www.ecsdn.org/) would welcome further clarification on the following:
Raise the skills of early education practitioners by investing in continuing professional development (page 9)
How will the Early Years Commission aim to harness the high-level skills and knowledge of current and future graduates of Early Childhood Studies Degrees to support this ‘short term solution’?
More funding should be available to public, private, voluntary, and independent early year settings – as well as childminders – to allow greater access to high-quality training (page 38).
We would welcome further information regarding how this would operate in practice, and how this would be supported in terms of the pay and status of those working within the early years sector?
The ECSDN support the manifesto, and its core priorities. Early Childhood Studies is an academic discipline with interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary working at its centre. Graduates of Early Childhood Studies degrees are equipped with outstanding knowledge and experience, understanding the importance of advocating for young children and families from conception to 8
years old. The requirement for these highly qualified practitioners is highlighted within the manifesto, with specific reference to adopting the role of ‘social pedagogues’.
In addition, we believe that our work in producing Early Childhood Graduate Practitioner Competencies (ECSDN, 2019) 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 these priorities and we would whole-heartedly welcome further communication regarding these clear strategic links for exciting future collaborations.
Written By Dr Helen Simmons and Philippa Thompson on behalf of the ECSDN Executive