The Labour Party has made a number of commitments related to early years and childcare in its general election manifesto, including a pledge to extend the 30-hour offer to all two-year-olds.
Labour's five childcare and early years-related manifesto pledges are:
- Directly subsidise high quality childcare settings rather than giving childcare subsidies directly to parents
- Maintain current commitments on free hours and make significant capital investment to ensure that the places exist to meet demand
- Phase in subsidised provision on top of free-hour entitlements, to ensure that everyone has access to affordable childcare, no matter their working pattern
- Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, by increasing staff wages and enhancing training opportunities
- Extend the 30-hour offer to all two-year-olds, move towards making some free childcare available for one-year-olds, and extend maternity pay to 12 months.
The manifesto of the Liberal Democrat Party also makes a number of significant early years and childcare-related commitments, including a promise to triple Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) funding for disadvantaged children and extend 15 hours of government-funded early education and childcare to all two-year-olds.
The five Liberal Democrat 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.
The Conservative Party manifesto promises to create thousands of new nursery places a year in primary schools, as well as to strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years.
The Conservatives’ five commitments are:
- Strengthen the teaching of literacy and numeracy in the early years
- Immediately institute a capital fund to help primary schools develop nurseries where they currently do not have the facilities to provide one
- Introduce a presumption that all new primary schools should include a nursery
- Continue to support maintained nurseries and allow them to become academies
- Assess what more is needed, including looking at the best ways that childcare is provided elsewhere in Europe and the world.
The Green Party manifesto makes the following pledges:
- Free universal early education and childcare for all children, with formal education starting at age 7
- A range of measures to reform primary schools, including bring academies and free schools back into the local authority system, abolishing Ofsted, and reforming the curriculum so that it is pupil-centred.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) manifesto also makes five childcare commitments:
- Enable non-Ofsted registered providers to deliver funded places and conduct review of childcare with aim of deregulating and simplifying the system
- Create a fund worth £80 million a year to help childminders and smaller providers to care for children with special needs, with grants of up to £3,000 for specialist training, equipment and resources.
- Extend the primary school day by offering wrap-around childcare from 8am to 6pm during term time
- Require local authorities to keep a register of childcare providers willing to provide emergency childcare cover
- Promote nursery or crèche provision in developments such as shopping centres, office blocks, hospitals, airports, and railway stations.
Read comments from PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram on the Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative manifestos.
You can also read independent analysis of the manifestos from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Education Policy Institute.