The Department for Education has announced targeted funding for reception pupils to help schools boost early language skills. Schools are being asked to sign up to the early years 'catch up' programme focused on raising outcomes in speaking and language skills among young pupils whose education may have been disrupted due to Covid-19.
Alongside the £9 million available for this programme, DfE have also confirmed that supplementary funding worth up to £23 million for maintained nursery schools will be continued through the summer term of 2021 to "enable local authorities to provide them with reassurance while the Department confirms a long-term solution".
Helen Donohoe, PACEY’s Policy Advisor, comments:
"While we of course welcome any additional support for early years settings, we are frustrated to see the limited nature of the early language fund. In only offering help to reception classes and maintained nursery schools, the government is overlooking not only younger children but all those that attend different settings such as childminders.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, those working in childcare have been unsung heroes. However, the pandemic has shone a stark light on the already threadbare financial existence of the sector. The prolonged absence of any long-term government strategy for children and young people has left the sector dependent on a hand to mouth existence, with an inadequately paid, and undervalued workforce.
If the government is serious about levelling up and improving outcomes for all children, then immediate transitional support is needed now, across the early years sector. However, that must be accompanied by a visionary long-term funding settlement. The government must address this through comprehensive spending review."