The Liberal Democrat Party has made a number of significant early years and childcare-related commitments in its general election manifesto, including a promise to triple funding for the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) and immediately extend 15 hours of government-funded early education to all two-year-olds in England.
The five pledges are:
- Triple the Early Years Pupil Premium to £1,000 per pupil per year
- Raise the quality of early years provision and aim for every formal early years setting to employ at least one person who holds an early years teacher qualification by 2022
- Provide 15 hours a week of free childcare to the parents of all two-year olds in England, and in the future, prioritise 15 hours’ free childcare for all working parents in England with children aged between nine months and two years
- Commit to a long-term goal of 30 hours’ free childcare a week for all parents in England with children aged from two to four years, and all working parents from the end of paid parental leave to two years
- Ensure that this provision is fully funded at sustainable levels, provides flexibility for parents who work unsocial hours, and enables parents to use free hours during school holidays.
Commenting on the proposals, PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram said:
"PACEY is pleased to see that early years and childcare has remained firmly on the agenda in the Liberal Democrats' general election manifesto, with a number of significant commitments. We have long called for an increase to the Early Years Pupil Premium so that it matches the funding that schools receive and provides practitioners with the resources to make a real difference.
"We also support the call to raise quality in early years settings. However, employing early years teachers is only one way of achieving this, and it is crucial that any proposals meet the needs of the whole sector, including childminders.
"The gradual extension of more free places to more children could have a hugely positive impact on children and families in England, but only this is done in partnership with the sector - and addresses the chronic underfunding with which providers have been struggling for the past several years."