The Department has significantly expanded the number of fully funded initial teacher training places in early years for the next academic year, and it is reviewing the level-3 qualification criterion for early years, both of which are part of our package of £180 million-worth of support.[Official Report, 6 December 2022, Vol. 724, c. 3MC.]
I recently visited Jelly Babies nursery at Longbridge Methodist church. [Interruption.] I did not eat any jelly babies on my visit, but I met the fantastic team who do so much to equip young children with new life skills. The Early Years Alliance is running its “We Are Educators” campaign, which I hope the Minister will support by recognising its work and the benefits for young children across the UK in general, and in Birmingham, Northfield in particular.
I know that my hon. Friend is a huge supporter of Jelly Babies, both the nursery and otherwise. The Government are supporting early years professionals with £180 million for qualifications and specific training, such as on dealing with challenging behaviour following the pandemic and on early communication.[Official Report, 6 December 2022, Vol. 724, c. 3MC.]
High-quality early years education is vital, and it is the best possible investment in our future—that includes both training and provision for all. Given that school budgets were protected in the autumn statement, where will the two years of real-terms funding cuts set for the Department for Education fall? Can the Minister confirm they will not fall on early years education?
As I said in answer to earlier questions, we put an extra £0.5 billion into the early years sector in the 2021 spending review to increase the hourly rate. We are also spending money on qualifications and training for teachers. This sector is very important to us, and we continue to consider all the ways we can support it.[Official Report, 6 December 2022, Vol. 724, c. 4MC.]