Skip to main content

Early Years Education

Volume 523: debated on Monday 7 February 2011

The Government are committed to taking steps to improve and invest in the quality of the early education and child care work force. We continue to invest in the work force by making funding available via the new early intervention grant, and by committing to fund the early years professional status and new leaders in early years programmes in 2011-12. We will publish proposals to support further improvement in the quality of the work force in the spring.

Last week, when opening the Hesketh Bank children’s centre in my constituency, I saw at first hand how essential the excellent staff are in helping families and children in the local community. How will the new leaders programme and the early years professional status programme ensure that more talented and committed people work in early years education?

I am very pleased to hear about the excellent work of the children’s centre staff in Hesketh Bank. The two programmes to which my hon. Friend refers will focus specifically on professionalism in the early years work force. The early years professional status programme enables people who already work in the sector to have their experience acknowledged, their skills refreshed and their learning updated. The new leaders programme is based around the Teach First and Teach Next programmes and designed specifically to bring into the early years work force talented people, with the potential to be great leaders, who might not otherwise have thought about working in the sector.

The Minister will be aware of several distressing cases recently of children in early years care being abused by staff. Will she commit, as part of that development, to ensure greater child protection training for early years workers, so that they not only know what is happening to children in the home, but can construct working practices that ensure such abuse cannot take place in the future?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising that matter, which has been very distressing to follow. She will be aware that no prosecutions have yet taken place, but I have asked Dame Clare Tickell to undertake a review for the Government of the early years foundation stage, and one of the things she is looking at is child protection and welfare.