Heads call for more funding for early years education

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EARLY YEARS settings must be given more money - especially for the education of the young children they take on from deprived backgrounds, headteachers will say today.

The National Association of Headteachers will announce a series of key recommendations to ensure children are given the support they need to succeed.

Two of the key demands relate to early years education.

The NAHT, which is holding its annual conference this weekend, is calling for funding to increase for early years education.

It says that early years is “the critical point for intervention to improve the life chances of children from disadvantaged backgrounds”. However it said the quality of this provision makes all the difference.

Russell Hobby, its general secretary of the union said: “A child’s life chances are heavily influenced in the first five years of life. In recognition of the importance of this phase of education, the early years pupil premium should increase to reach parity with the £1,300 for primary pupils.

“Funding for early years education in general is insufficient and our members report that it often fails to cover the full cost of delivering the provision. We need to see an increase in early years funding based on a clear, transparent and consistent national funding framework.”

Pupil premium is given to schools and early years settings for each child they take on from a deprived background.

The union is also calling for a highly qualified graduate level manager or teacher in every nursery and for a grade C GCSE in English and maths to be the minimum entry requirement for staff qualifying for early years educator status - something the Government is introducing.

The NAHT has also warned about schools having to pick up the tab for supporting pupils as a result of cuts to local council services.

Mr Hobby said: “We must make more progress in narrowing the attainment gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children. There is still a significant and problematic difference in grades, higher education access and future earnings. The pressure is on schools to step in and help vulnerable children. NAHT research in 2015 showed that schools were providing £43.5m of additional welfare related support for children from deprived backgrounds. That figure will only have worsened during another year of austerity.”

The union will also call for personal social health and economic (PSHE) education to be made a statutory requirement. Heads say that this needs to be safeguarded as the plan to academise all state schools could weaken this provision. The union will call for a requirement to teach PSHE is included in all new academies’ charters. Another issue being raised by the NAHT today is mental health. The union has welcomed the government’s announcement of £1bn investment into mental health services across the UK, but wants clarity as to how and where this money will be spent.