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Early Years Settings: Educational Development

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 January 2021

What steps his Department is taking to support the educational development of children in early years settings during the covid-19 outbreak. (910839)

What steps his Department is taking to support the educational development of children in early years settings during the covid-19 outbreak. (910852)

The early years are a crucial period for a child’s development, and early years education cannot be delivered online. That is why, in June last year, the Government prioritised getting children back to nurseries and childminders. Given the negative impact of children missing education, Public Health England’s advice that the early years sector is a less significant driver of community transmission, and the low rates of infection among the very young, we advise that early years settings should remain open to all children, and we are working with early years organisations to ensure that no young child gets left behind.

I am proud to support and be a member of the early years healthy development review, chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom). We will share our recommendations in February. The review team has found, from discussions with early years professionals, that family hubs play a vital role in ensuring that every infant gets the best start in life, including as regards their educational development. Does my hon. Friend agree?

I so agree with my hon. Friend. That is why we are setting up a national centre for family hubs. There are already many family hubs across the country providing a wide range of integrated services, including support for families in the early years. I visited the family hub in Westminster in her constituency to see the difference it makes to families. We want to ensure that successful approaches, such as that in Westminster, can be spread across the country.

As a father with a son in nursery, I know just how important it is to keep early years open for all children. I thank the Government for doing so, and thank all our schools and early years providers across Stoke-on-Trent for everything they are doing to stay open for those eligible. Given the impact on children who are currently unable to attend school, and their families, will my hon. Friend outline what action will be taken to ensure those children catch up quickly when schools can fully reopen?

We have committed to a £1 billion catch-up package, which is a universal £650 million catch-up premium, and the £350 million national tutoring programme to support the most disadvantaged pupils. We expect providers to prioritise support for pupils by individual need. The Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance to support catch-up. To help the very youngest children to catch up, we are delivering the Nuffield Early Language Intervention in reception year. Some 40% of primary schools have signed up for the programme. These programmes will help many children in Stoke and across the country.