A number of reports relevant to childcare and early years have been published in the last week. Here is a brief round-up:
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission published its third annual 'State of the nation' report. The Commission has found that less than half of the poorest children in England are ready for school, compared to almost two-thirds of other children. It claims that efforts to improve the school-readiness of the poorest children are uncoordinated, confused and patchy and that the complexity of the childcare funding system is hampering efforts to increase maternal employment.
The Commission is calling on the Government to halve both the development gap between the poorest children and the rest at age five and the gap in maternal employment between England and the best-performing nations by 2025. It also recommends that the Government:
- establish an innovation fund designed to test new ways of improving parenting skills
- radically simplify the free childcare funding system
- establish a national definition of school readiness
The Government has finally published its official response to the findings of the House of Lords Select Committee on Affordable Childcare, which reported back in February 2015. PACEY gave evidence to the Committee and welcomed its findings. The Government response acknowledges the report’s recommendations and sets out its own commitments around affordable childcare.
The Government has published two new independent research reports on children’s centres, as part of its Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (ECCE) study. The first report looks at how changes to children's centres' funding and staffing have affected services. The second report analyses the effectiveness of children's centres at promoting better outcomes for young children and their families. The Government is due launch a public consultation shortly on the future of children’s centres in England.
Another major government-funded study, Effective pre-school, primary and secondary education (EPPSE), has found that children who experience a good home learning environment in the early years and attend pre-school are more likely to do well at school and go on to take advanced level examinations. The EPPE study has repeatedly underscored the importance of high quality early education for under 5s.