Javneet Ghuman reports on parliamentary interest in our recent early years research.
Laura Barbour, Early Years lead at the Sutton Trust, was invited to discuss the impact of early years policy on social mobility by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on nursery schools and nursery classes on Tuesday (10 October). The APPG focuses on early years education, bringing together practitioners, sector leaders and others with an interest in this area and is chaired by Labour MP Lucy Powell.
Laura (pictured second from the left below) had been asked to present on behalf of the Sutton Trust on our most recent report on early years, Closing Gaps Early, to highlight why good quality early years provision is vital in improving social mobility. The report examines the current state of early years policy in light of the evidence about what works and identifies policy priority areas based on this evidence. The early years report has already had a lot of interest from the policy community and has been cited by several MPs in the Commons.
There was a lot of agreement in the room on the points raised by Laura as she went through the report, with a clear consensus that there had a been a policy shift from the quality of early years provision towards quantity, and a transfer of funds from support for the most disadvantaged to relatively advantaged families as seen through the roll out of 30 hours of free childcare. There were concerns raised by head teachers on the looming funding crisis and the impact that this will have on nursery schools’ ability to provide good quality care and education.
Parental engagement was another area which was flagged during the discussion and gave Laura the chance to explain the work of the Trust in this area too. She highlighted that the evidence suggests that the best parental engagement tools involved training and supporting nursery school staff to interact with the parents and that CPD is a key component of this.
Reflecting on Laura’s presentation Lucy Powell MP said that she was in strong agreement with many of the findings and recommendations in the report, and that she was grateful to the work of the Trust building on her own work with the Social Market Foundation. She also reiterated that it was clear that currently the Department for Education has a strong focus on social mobility, and this should be seen as an opportunity to improve the quality of early years provision.
The Trust is very grateful to the APPG for inviting us to present our report on early years to the group. Forums such as these are an important way in which we can share the work of the Trust, but also hear from those working on the front line in education. We were delighted to come along and look forward to working with the APPG on this important issue.
You can find the Sutton Trust’s Closing Gaps Early report here.