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What the Labour Win Could Mean for the Early Years Sector

July 5, 2024
3 minute read

The early years sector is at a pivotal point with significant changes and challenges on the horizon. As the new Labour government settles in, early years providers continue to grapple with critical issues such as underfunding and staffing shortages.

With the next phase of increased funding changes just two months away, there is a growing concern about the sector’s ability to meet the new demands. The changes aim to extend access to 15 funded hours for working parents with children as young as nine months. However, without addressing the underlying issues of staffing and underfunding, nurseries may find these changes unmanageable.

The Labour Party has made bold promises to address these challenges, focusing on making childcare more affordable and accessible. Their mission is to break the link between a child's background and their future success, ensuring that all children have equal opportunities regardless of their parents' socioeconomic status. Here, we explore Labour's key policies for the early years sector and their potential impact on nursery managers and leaders.

Expansion of Nursery Places

One of Labour's primary goals is to create 100,000 new nursery places. This will be achieved by repurposing unused primary school classrooms and establishing new nursery provisions in areas with significant childcare shortages. Whilst this expansion is crucial, as the sector has lost over 5,000 early years provisions between March 2022 and March 2023, at TEYC we do not agree that our young children belong in unused classrooms. Our children deserves purpose built environments, representing home from home comforts that meet their unique needs.

Extended Childcare Funding

Labour plans to continue expanding childcare funding entitlements for working parents, an initiative started by the previous government. By prioritising affordable early years provision, the Party aims to support women returning to work, potentially boosting the economy by £28.2 billion. However at TEYC advocate to ensure we maintain high-quality childcare, and ensure the needs of the child is always the primary focus.

Recruitment and Retention of Staff

Recognising the critical issue of staffing shortages, Labour plans to improve recruitment and retention across the sector. Although specific details for the early years are scarce, the EYA’s manifesto highlights the need for better pay scales and a financial rescue package for nurseries. Addressing the pay gap between early years professionals and other teaching roles is essential to attracting and retaining talented staff.

Changes to Ofsted Inspections

The Labour Party proposes moving away from single-word Ofsted judgements to more detailed report cards that provide comprehensive insights into a school's performance and improvement plans. This change could offer a more nuanced understanding of a settings strengths and areas for development, helping managers focus on continuous improvement.

Enhanced SEND Support

Labour aims to implement a community-wide approach to supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). This includes additional educational support for mainstream schools and improved specialist provisions. There is hope here, as early years settings might benefit from this holistic approach, potentially accessing more resources and support through local authorities. Lets hope this is as good as it sounds!

We hope to see that the early years sector becomes an integral part of Labour’s vision for the future. By addressing funding, expanding nursery places, and enhancing educational quality, we urge Labour to ensure that all children have the best start in life. For nursery managers and leaders, staying informed and proactive in adapting to these changes will be key to ensuring the continued success of their settings.

Follow this link to read more from The Early Years Company.

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