EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT SELECT COMMITTEE
REPORT ON THE EARLY YEARS: THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE
The Select Committee's recommendations are in bold
The Government's response is in plain text.
Some of the recommendations and responses have been
1. We recommend that the Government should develop
a Parents' Charter to be visible in every Early Years setting
which affirms the centrality of the parent in the development
and education of their child and welcomes them as vital educators
of their children.
Parents are children's first and most enduring educators
and it is important for settings to develop an effective partnership
with them. The Government, in principle, supports the recommendation.
DfEE officials will consult Early Years Development and Childcare
Partnerships (EYDCPs) and other early years and childcare organisations
to consider the development of a 'Parents' Charter'.
2. We recommend that the Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should make the necessary resources
available to support parental participation in Early Years activities.
The Government recognises the importance of parental
participation and involvement in early years activity. Recent
research highlights the strong link between the shared reading
and literacy activities of parents and child and later attainment
and shows that very young children, between birth and age 3, are
eager and capable learners.
One of the principles of the Foundation Stage is
the importance of practitioners and parents working together.
This is included in the Curriculum Guidance, it was an element
of the training in the Foundation Stage provided to all settings,
and will be included in future training for Foundation Stage practitionersfor
which we are providing £113.5 million in total over the next
three years. We have also produced, with the Qualifications and
Curriculum Authority (QCA), a leaflet for parents to help them
understand the Foundation Stage.
Parental involvement in the education and care of
children is a key feature of our Early Excellence Centre Programme,
which already includes a number of examples of very good practice
in this area. We plan to expand the Early Excellence programme
and to put it at the forefront of our efforts to support the wider
development of high quality integrated services. We are also considering
how to make further targeted resource available to support specific
work to support parents in the education and development of their
3. Parents should be involved in helping practitioners
to draw up individual profiles of their children to help the process
of planning for their learning. We recommend that the DfEE should
develop new forms of developmental profile at entry to school
which would include parents' own contributions to assessment and
The Government agrees that to involve parents in
developing an understanding of the abilities and requirements
of their children is good practice. We will consider the possibility
of using the observations of parents to inform assessments as
part of the review of the existing Baseline Assessment process.
4. We recommend that there should be more support
given through the health, social services and education services
working together to provide assistance to parents. We recommend
that the Government should work with BBC Online and other innovative
providers to produce appropriate programmes on parenting.
The Government is committed to helping parents and
to involving them in their children's development and agrees that
providers of health, education and social care should work together
more closely to provide better support. This is already happening
where there are Sure Start or Early Excellence Centres, and in
other areas where local partners choose to work in this way. Other
support for parents is available through our family literacy and
numeracy programmes and other intergenerational learning and development
projects. Multi agency collaboration involving, amongst others,
education, health and social services, is a central feature of
the Early Excellence Centre programme. We will use the EEC programme,
which we are aiming to expand significantly over the next 3 years
to catalyse and stimulate the wider development of similar high
quality integrated services. Likewise the continuing development
and expansion of Sure Start will provide further resources to
support the development of integrated approaches to the delivery
of services for young children and their families.
As part of the Ministerial Group on Family Policy's
practical initiatives, the Government has contributed to the startup
funding and some of the core costs of the National Family and
Parenting Institute (NFPI). This includes a mapping and auditing
exercise of services at a local level to support parenting and
family relationships. The resulting Parents' Services Directory
will be available on the web, in print, through libraries and,
eventually, through digital television.
The Home Secretary supported the BBC's series of
programmes on parenting, indicating his willingness for resources
to be made available to back up the series via voluntary organisations.
Accordingly, NFPI and One Plus One received funding to establish
local befriending schemes, and for providing suitable materials,
connected to the content of the programmes. The NFPI planned the
first Parents' Week to coincide with the BBC 2 parenting week.
In addition, the BBC Online links to ChildcareLink, the Government's
website which gives information on childcare places nationally
The NFPI is just one example of the Government's
practical initiatives to support families. The Home Office is
also funding a range of voluntary organisations through the Family
Support Grant to support parents in their parenting role.
5. The physical security of the children being
looked after should never be compromised.
The new arrangements for regulating childcare, to
be operated by OFSTED later this year, will provide assurance
to parents that their children are being looked after safely,
securely and in a way that promoted their health and development.
This is the focus of the new national standards for the regulation
of day care and childminding that OFSTED will apply across the
6. We endorse the DfEE's recommendation that childminders
should attend a recognised childminder's course within six months
of starting childminding and that regular inservice courses
should continue to be a part of every childminder's programme.
The Government welcomes the Committee's support.
The new national standards will be published in time for the transfer
of childminder regulation to OFSTED in September 2001.
7. We recommend that no childminder should be
allowed to smack any child in their care.
8. We recommend that no childminder should be
permitted to smoke in the presence of any child in their care.
The Government has made clear that smoking and smacking
will be prohibited in all group day care settings not based in
the home, and in all childminding settings unless parents give
their explicit consent. In addition the draft standards state
that childminders must promote the good health of children in
We received approximately 6,000 responses to our
consultation exercise on the draft national standards for the
regulation of day care. Of these, an initial analysis of 1,069
was carried out, of which 335 related directly to our proposals
for national standards for childminders. The selection of responses
for the initial analysis was done on the basis of a random sample,
although we made sure that we also considered the responses of
key organisations in the early years sector, including the National
In answering the question "Do you agree with
the criteria set down for this standard?", which contained
the proposal to allow childminders to smoke in front of children
in their care with parents' consent, 37 per cent disagreed while
63 per cent agreed.
In answering the question "Do you agree with
the criteria set down for this standard?", which contained
the proposal to allow childminders to smack children in their
care with parents' consent, 43 per cent disagreed while 57 per
In each case a number of respondents who agreed with
the overall standard made comments relating to the specific criteria
dealing with smoking and smacking.
Having completed our consultation on the national
standards we were concerned that the views of parents had not
been adequately represented. That is why the Government commissioned
an independent opinion poll of over 1,000 parents to ask them
whether parents or the Government should decide on whether childminders
should be permitted to smoke in the presence of children in their
care or smack minded children. A significant majority (74 per
cent smoking, 83 per cent smacking) agreed with our view that
these are matters on which parents rather than the Government
9. We recommend that the years from birth to five
plus should be viewed as the first phase of education, in which
the involvement of families and parents will be crucial. Since
education and care are inseparable, there should be a universal
service under the leadership of a single Government Department.
The Government agrees that policies on education
and care for children from birth to five should be joined up.
Having introduced the Foundation Stage, we are now turning our
attention to researching best practice with regard to younger
children from birth to three. We will develop a framework for
supporting children between these ages and their families.
We fully support the principle that users should
have access to seamless services where this is appropriate. Our
approach to early years and childcare is wholly consistent with
this. The DfEE has combined into a single unit its formerly separate
Early Years Division and Childcare Unit. We are evaluating Sure
Start programmes to learn from their success and apply the principles
of that success across under fives provision generally.
We are committed to breaking down traditional barriers
between Departments and we are exploring new and more effective
ways of integrating Government policy. Sure Start is one obvious
example focusing particularly on the need of children under four
living in disadvantaged areas. The Sure Start unit, while based
in DfEE, is jointly accountable to DfEE and Department of Health.
10. We recommend that Government funding should
be made available to support the sharing of best practice and
learning from the experience of the Sure Start centres.
Sure Start is a cornerstone of the Government's strategy
to eradicate child poverty by 2020. It is concerned with improving
the life chances of children from birth to the age of four living
in the most disadvantaged areas of England. It has, however, always
been the Government's intention that, over time, Sure Start would
have a wider impact that will reach more and more children. We
plan to establish models of integrated service delivery based
on local need, which can be replicated across the country.
It is clear that by influencing and improving 'mainstream'
services, we will get the best value out of the substantial resourcesestimated
at as much as £11.5 billion every yearthat already
go into services for children and families. Our aim therefore
is to identify the elements of Sure Start that work and to disseminate
them to everybody involved in delivering services for children
and families. The Sure Start Unit has already introduced a bimonthly
newsletter (Upstart!) and a website (www.surestart.gov.uk) to
support the sharing of good practice between Sure Start programmes
and the wide range of agencies that are involved in them. The
national evaluation of Sure Start, which has just begun, will
be another valuable mechanism for achieving this.
At the local level, key agencies in some districtsespecially
those with more than one Sure Start programmeare already
beginning to think about an areawide strategy to link the
programmes up and to address the areas in between.
11. We recommend that there should be substantially
increased Government support for, and investment in, integrated
initiatives like Sure Start and Early Excellence Centres.
The Government has made clear that its broad strategy
for the early years is to secure good quality, fully integrated
services for parents and their children.
The Green Paper, "Schools: Building on Success"
stresses the Government's determination to encourage the development
of new integrated early years centres which draw on the strengths
of the public, private and voluntary sectors. Through the Early
Excellence Centre programme, Sure Start, Neighbourhood Nursery
centres and other programmes the Government intends to createand
will encourage others to createup to 100,000 new fulltime
nursery education places where childcare is available to cover
a normal or extended day.
By March 2004, we will have doubled the number of
Sure Start programmes from 250 to 500. The level of spending on
Sure Start will correspondingly increase from £184 million
a year to £499 million a year by 2004. This represents a
growth in real terms of over 36 per cent a year. We also plan
to expand the Early Excellence Centre programme to up to 100 centres
by 2004 including designating centres operating within Sure Start
areas and centres developed through the Neighbourhood Nurseries
initiative. In this way, the great potential synergies between
programmes can be exploited and built on to improve services for
young children and their families.
In October 2000 we launched a new Initiative to encourage
maintained nursery schools and other existing providers of early
education and childcare services to expand into new areas and
extend their services for parents and children. We aim to help
250 schools in this way by 2004. We have also established a small
pilot programme, involving projects in five local education authorities,
to test innovative approaches to combining early education with
wraparound care. The projects, which will run until March 2003,
will look at different ways and methods of integrating provision
of this kind for three and four year olds and will provide models
of good practice that can be adopted more generally. We hope to
be able to announce extension to new pilot areas shortly.
12. We recommend that the evidence from comprehensive
evaluations of Early Excellence and Sure Start should be used
actively within Government across Departments to support and promote
the further development of integrated policy and practice under
the leadership of one Department.
A largescale, longterm national evaluation
of Sure Start began in January 2001. The purpose of this evaluation
is to inform the Government about what aspects of Sure Start are
most effective. It will look at both shortterm and longterm
outcomes, and will track a sample of Sure Start children over
time to see whether and how Sure Start has improved outcomes for
them in later life.
A comprehensive framework for evaluation of the Early
Excellence Centre pilot programme is in place. It aims to show
how different forms of integrated provision work in different
local contexts; to identify and disseminate good practice in the
delivery of quality integrated services for children and families;
to identify the impact and outcomes of integrated services; and
to demonstrate the cost effectiveness and value for money of the
programme. Its findings will highlight issues for policy and to
inform the future development of the programme. Evaluation evidence
is a key plank in the delivery of the dissemination strategy planned
for the programme. Early findings have been published and other
opportunities will be sought to share their good practice. An
initial publicationFirst Findingsreported that Early
Excellence Centres have the potential for enhanced cost saving
outcomes. In one case, for every £1 spent on Early Excellence
Centre services for family support, £8 was saved on alternative
services. The findings of these evaluations will be widely available
across Government departments as well as the wider public.
13. We recommend that the adult:child ratio should
be no more than fifteentoone in Reception and Year
14. We recommend that children below compulsory
school age should be taught informally in ways that are appropriate
to their developmental stage and their interests. We recommend
that in Reception and Year 1 classes there should be fifteen or
fewer children for each member of staff working with the children
in the class.
The Government recognises the advantages of greater
adult:child ratios for younger children. The size of infant classes
for children in Years R, 1 and 2 are already being limited to
30 as part of the Government's class size pledge. The further
initiative to increase the number of teaching assistants working
in primary and secondary schools in England by 20,000 by 2002
will make a substantial contribution to reducing the number of
children to each adult in the classroom. 60 per cent of all reception
classes currently enjoy an adult: pupil ratio of 1:15 (2:30) and
£56 million is being made available between 2000-01 and 2002-03
to reduce reception class ratios to 1:15 in the 60 most deprived
Local Education Authorities.
The Government agrees that the teaching of children
below compulsory school age should reflect their developmental
stage and interests. This is consistent with the Curriculum Guidance
for the Foundation Stage which was published in June 2000 and
very widely welcomed by early years practitioners; researchers;
and specialist organisations. The QCA is developing further guidance
on planning for the curriculum in all Foundation Stage provision,
including that in primary schools.
15. We support the approach in the Curriculum
Guidance issued by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
that more structured learning should be introduced very gradually
so that, by the end of the Reception year, children are learning
through more formal, whole class activities for a small proportion
of the day.
22. We support the Qualification and Curriculum
Authority's Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, which
illustrates rather than imposes stepping stones for a child to
progress from the age of three to the end of the Foundation Stage.
The Government welcomes the Committee's support for
the Government's approach to early learning as set out in the
Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. The Curriculum Guidance,
which is now the core reference document for this Stage, puts
clear emphasis on providing learning experiences which are suited
to children's needs and achievements has been widely welcomed.
16. We recommend that training for the Reception
Year should be moved out of Key Stage 1 training and into the
training for the Foundation Stage.
The Government agrees that the particular requirements
of the Foundation Stage should be reflected in inservice
training. We are funding EYDCPs to provide training for Foundation
Stage practitioners. That will cover the Reception children, including
those in mixed settings with children in Year 1.
The Teacher Training Agency (TTA) is currently reviewing
the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) requirements, covered by DfEE
Circular 4/98. As part of that review, the TTA is proposing to
update the revised requirements to take account of the Foundation
Stage and will invite comments on possible changes as part of
its consultation. Currently, it would be impracticable to implement
this recommendation, due to the way ITT courses are offered. ITT
providers offer courses in ages 3-8 or 3-11 and they are free
to decide whether or not to offer early years as a specialism
as part of these courses.
17. We recommend that initial and inservice
training programmes for Early Years practitioners should emphasise
the skills and knowledge necessary to both involve and support
family members. We recommend that the Teacher Training Agency
and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority should emphasise
in their guidance and the teacher training syllabus the skills
for working with adults as well as those for teaching young children.
The Government agrees that it is important to involve
and support family members and that practitioners should be prepared
to do this effectively. This has been specifically addressed in
the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage and will be included
in planning guidance for practitioners in delivering the Foundation
Stage. We have encouraged EYDCPs to challenge and support early
years settings in engaging and involving parents.
The current requirements for Initial Teacher Training
(ITT) include several references to working with and involving
family members. When assessed, trainees must demonstrate that
they understand how pupils' learning is affected by their physical,
intellectual, emotional and social development, and must have
a knowledge of effective ways of working with parents and other
carers. In addition, trainees must be able to manage, with support
from an experienced specialist teacher if necessary, the work
of parents and other adults in the classroom to enhance learning
opportunities for pupils. Trainees must recognise that learning
takes place inside and outside the school context, and understand
the need to liaise effectively with parents and other carers and
with other agencies with responsibility for pupils' education
The Induction standards also include specific references
to working with and involving family members that NQTs must demonstrate
in order to successfully complete the Induction period. For example,
all NQTs should demonstrate that he or she liaises effectively
with pupils' parents/carers through informative oral and written
reports on pupils' progress and achievements, discussing appropriate
targets, and encouraging them to support their children's learning,
behaviour and progress.
18. Many of those giving evidence argued that
the age of school entry was less important than the kind of curriculum
and teaching young children encounter when they enter statutory
This reflects the Government's view.
19. We recommend that the Government should review
the limitations in practice on the operation of parents' choice
for entry to primary school, to ensure that the needs of children
to be placed in appropriate settings are paramount.
The Government believes the quality and appropriateness
of the educational experience is far more important than the type
of setting a child attends. As the Foundation Stage becomes embedded
the label of the setting will matter less.
Nevertheless we are fully committed to parental choice
in early education. Parents should not be compelled to accept
a school place when they believe that their child's needs would
be best met by another provider, or that their child is not yet
ready for school. Already, through the Code of Practice on School
Admissions, we are encouraging all primary school admission authorities,
when they offer parents a school place, to allow them to defer
taking it up until later in that academic year when their child
will be approaching or be of compulsory school age. We are monitoring
the extent to which deferred entry is an option for parents. We
will continue to keep this under review and to consider what more
can be done to protect parental choice.
20. We recommend that the compulsory age of school
entry should remain at the term after the child's fifth birthday;
and the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage should be
fully implemented in primary schools to ensure that children receive
the style of education appropriate to their stage of development.
The Government agrees with the recommendation. The
Curriculum Guidance has been well received, and we have been supporting
its introduction across the range of Foundation Stage settings.
We have asked EYDCPs to plan further training and development
for all foundation stage practitioners, including those working
with children in Reception classes in Primary schools.
21. We recommend that baseline assessment should
be moved to the start of Year 1.
The QCA has been consulting on new arrangements for
baseline assessment, including the timing of assessments. QCA's
advice is expected at the end of April. The Government will consider
the timing of baseline assessment in the light of that advice,
as well as any consequent need to rename baseline assessment,
23. We recognise that the scale of the challenge
in the Guidance to practitioners, who will need to have imagination
and flexibility to enable children to learn in ways appropriate
to their developmental stage.
The Government agrees that providing a high quality
curriculum for the Early Years is both important and a challenge.
The DfEE applauds the efforts of the EYDCPs and early years practitioners
who are responding to it. We are keen to keep momentum going,
to share good practice and provide support where needed. On this
basis, we are continuing to work with EYDCPs and other key organisations
to seek and resource improvements in quality.
24. We recommend that training to assist practitioners
to enhance children's personal, social and emotional development
should be supported by the DfEE.
36. We recommend that there should be continued
Government investment in training at all levels in the Early Years
38. We recommend that all training should be adequately
funded, and in particular, that there should be Government grants
for mature and parttime students, and better support for
those following NVQs.
The Government supports these recommendations which
are aimed ensuring the supply of accessible, good quality training
for all early years practitioners.
We have committed considerable resources over the
next three years to fund training related activities. EYDCPs will
have access to £21 million a year to help to make training
and qualifications more accessible for the workforce, a further
£30 million from the European Social Fund specifically to
help unblock obstacles to taking up training opportunities and
£113.5 million to provide training for early years practitioners
for the Foundation Stage.
The £113.5 million for training for the Foundation
Stage will ensure all early years practitioners access a minimum
of four days of training per year which will be aimed at enhancing
children's personal, social and emotional development, as well
as other areas of learning in the Foundation Stage. It will fund
equal opportunities training, training in the identification and
assessment of children with special educational needs (SEN). It
will also fund measures to support weak settings and ensure access
to a qualified teacher for nonmaintained settings, working
towards achieving our national target of one qualified teacher
to every ten nonmaintained settings delivering funded early
In our recent Green Paper Schools: Building on
Success, we reaffirmed our commitment to early intervention
to improve the prospects for children with SEN. The Secretary
of State announced on 20 March a £25 million package over
3 years to assist Local Education Authorities and their EYDCPs
achieve our targets designed to improve SEN provision locally
for young children. Specifically, the additional resource will
help to fund:
- up to four pilots during 2001-02 to establish
area SEN Coordinator (SENCO) networks (£0.5 million);
- training over 3 years for settingbased
SENCOs (£9.5 million);
- national training materials to support training
activity (£1 million);
- a regional network of SEN experts to provide
nationally coordinated support to area SENCOs over 3 years
- parallel additional funding for LEAs over 3 years
to support and improve existing activities, for example: development
of portage schemes; better resources for helping children with
low incidence disability (£11 million).
We have also set the Learning and Skills Council
a national indicative target of helping 230,000 young people and
sector workers to gain level 2 or level 3 qualifications in early
years, childcare and playwork by 2004. Local Learning and Skills
Councils have been asked to work with EYDCPs to support local
training and qualifications requirements. DfEE officials are also
considering a range of options to best support practitioners.
These will include the possibility of grants and bursaries to
support training and qualifications in areas where key skills
25. We recommend that innovative practice in ways
to foster children's personal, social and emotional development
should be disseminated widely through the Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships.
Good practice in fostering children's personal, social
and emotional development is being disseminated by EYDCPs through
Foundation Stage training. It will be developed further in QCA's
planning guidance for the Foundation Stage and the core competence
programme that is being developed for Foundation Stage practitioners.
The Government is happy to consider what might be required, particularly
on disseminating innovative approaches, in addition to scheduled
Activities that help develop children's early literacy
and numeracy skills can also contribute to children's personal,
social and emotional development. The QCA's guidance says that
planning a range of activities is also important for the promotion
of children's social skills and helping them to develop their
independence and ability to concentrate.
26. We recommend that the Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should expand training opportunities,
particularly in the voluntary and private sector, to enhance the
level of teaching skill, including planning and assessment.
41. We recommend that Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should provide positive leadership
and financial support to make training more accessible and affordable
for the private and voluntary sectors.
EYDCPs play an important role in identifying the
training needs of the sector. They need to be aware of local needs
both in the voluntary and private sector and other early years
settings, and to decide how to prioritise their funding allocations
in response to this. We have asked them to draw up plans to meet
a number of training and development targets, reflecting their
knowledge of local needs both in the voluntary and private sector
and other early years settings.
27. We recommend that every setting that is inspected
by OFSTED should have such [outdoor play] areas available to the
children. We recommend that if necessary the DfEE should make
specific grants to Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships
to make this provision possible and should assist settings in
receipt of grant also to pursue other sources of funding, such
as the New Opportunities Fund.
28. We recommend that the funding of Early Years
Development and Childcare Partnerships should be increased to
enable children who have no opportunity for outdoor play, to have
safe and secure facilities regularly available to them so that
they can play and learn outdoors as well as indoors.
The Government is aware that some settings are currently
constrained by the lack of suitable outdoor play areas and encourages
EYDCPs and practitioners to look for opportunities to make the
most of local facilities, developing shared access where feasible.
During 2000-01 we have made £5 million of capital
funding available to the 75 most deprived authorities to promote
wrap around care. One of the suggested uses of this money was
to improve outdoor facilities for children and encourage the development
of safe and secure external play areas.
We have also recently made £2 million of capital
funding available specifically for maintained nursery schools
that can, at local discretion, be used to improve external play
facilities. This is part of a larger package that includes an
additional £5 million, which can be either used to improve
facilities, such as outdoor play areas, or support initiatives
that widen the range of services nursery schools provide. These
schools generally have very good outdoor provision, and use it
In addition, childcare funding has been increased
very substantially over 2001-04, from £63 million to more
than £200 million a year by 2003-04. There is considerable
flexibility in this funding for local decision taking on expenditure
and it is open to any Partnership to bid for money for extending
outdoor play facilities.
Under the new Neighbourhood Nurseries initiative,
it will be possible for EYDCPs to consider using some of the NOF
capital element for developing outdoor play facilities. We will
continue to keep this issue under close review.
29. We recommend that Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships in relatively disadvantaged urban areas
should plan to provide a range of outdoor experiences appropriate
to the age of the children including, for example, visits to urban
farms, the countryside, woodland and the seaside, where the environment
is used by skilled practitioners to instruct, stimulate and expand
the imagination of children.
The Government agrees that outdoor experiences offer
valuable learning opportunities to young children. Early Years
practitioners are already encouraged to develop a stimulating
and varied curriculum that includes learning in the outdoors.
The Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage promotes this
and offers examples of children's activities and the practitioner's
role in extending children's learning out of doors.
30. We recommend that as a long term vision the
DfEE should foster the creation and development of a ladder of
training for Early Years practitioners which could lead to a graduate
qualification equivalent to that of qualified teachers.
The Government supports the recommendation that career
opportunities should be developed for practitioners. The Qualifications
Framework, being developed by the QCA links qualifications to
job roles and gives national recognition to the standards achieved.
The Early Years National Training Organisation and the National
Training Organisation for Sport, Recreation and Allied Occupations
(SPRITO) are working on systems for recognising and giving credit
for individuals' prior experience and learning to enable them
to progress more quickly. The Green Paper "Schools: Building
on Success" signals the Government's intention to build
on this by developing a new senior early years practitioner role
and new routes into teaching for sector workers. It will discuss
the way forward with key stake holders. The Government has also
embarked upon the development of a 'core competence programme'
for Foundation Stage practitioners that will comprise modules
relating to effective early education practice. The intention
is to design these in such a way that they can be accredited towards
existing and future qualifications.
31. We recommend that every setting outside a
home which offers early education should have a trained teacher
on its staff. Trained teachers should also be involved in the
networks which support childminders looking after children in
the Foundation Stage.
The Government supports the recommendation to increase
the involvement of qualified teachers more directly across the
range of early education settings. The current level of involvement
is relatively low and the total number of settings high (around
35,000 in all). Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships
have been set targets to increase the number of qualified teachers
available to support settings, to achieve a ratio of 1 to every
10 nonmaintained settings by 2004.
32. We recommend that Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should publish regular surveys of the
costs of childcare in their local authority areas, as well as
surveys of the typical rates of pay in their area for different
categories of practitioners in the Early Years sector.
The Government agrees that Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should be required to publish the costs
of childcare in their local authority areas. The childcare and
early years audit guidance for 2000-2001 included just such a
requirement. This will be continued into future years' audits.
We will also consider the Committee's recommendation
about surveying rates of pay in discussion with Partnerships.
33. We recommend that the Government with the
Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships should adopt
an objective of ensuring equitable pay and conditions for all
categories of practitioners across all settings in the Early Years
The Government recognises the challenge of recruiting
and retaining sufficient suitable workers of the right calibre
and will work with Partnerships on a range of measures to raise
the status of working in the sector, recruit the additional staff
needed and improve retention. Pay and conditions lie outside the
Government's remit but will be kept under review by the Partnerships
and the Government.
34. We urge the DfEE to examine the reasons for
the low recruitment of men into the Early Years sector and to
make strenuous efforts to address the imbalance in the Early Years
35. We welcome the national recruitment campaign,
led by the DfEE, for Early Years staff, including Early Years
teachers, and we recommend that particular efforts should be made
to attract men as part of this campaign.
The Government supports these recommendations.
The Government strongly agrees that the sector needs
to draw on a wider pool of talent if it is to ensure that children
continue to get the best quality care and education. Male workers
have a lot to offer children, including acting as positive role
models and providing a male figure in a child's life where there
is none at home. The Government is committed to increasing the
proportion of men in the workforce and has set a target of 6 per
cent by 2004 from a baseline of 2 per cent in 1998. During the
next phase of the national recruitment campaign, we will be actively
promoting the recruitment of underrepresented groups, including
men, to the workforce.
The Early Years National Training Organisation will
shortly be publishing a good practice guide to encourage employers
to recruit more men, people from ethnic communities, people with
disabilities and older people into early years care, education
37. We recommend that there should be national
targets for training so that within ten years all Early Years
practitioners have appropriate and specialist levels of training,
with all heads of centres, nurseries and playgroups being at graduate
level or equivalent and all other early childhood workers at NVQ
Level 3 or equivalent.
The Government shares the Committee's view that we
need to raise qualification levels in the early years sector.
In the short term, the introduction from September
of national daycare standards will mean that providers across
England will be expected to meet the same common set of minimum
requirements, rather than the variable local arrangements that
currently apply. The standards will include minimum levels for
qualified staff. We recently announced the new national standards
for full daycare which require the manager and all supervisors
to hold a relevant level 3 qualification and at least half of
the remaining staff to be qualified to level 2. The standards
for other settings will be published shortly.
It is our intention to build on the new national
standards by raising overall levels of qualification over time.
We are looking to establish a working group to look at qualification
levels in the medium and long term. In particular we intend to
create a new senior early years practitioner role and helping
more sector workers to obtain qualified teacher status. In setting
future targets for training we will consider the possibility of
moving over time towards a requirement for setting leaders to
be at graduate level.
39. We recommend that all early childhood workers
should have access to continuous professional development as of
right. Qualified Early Years teachers should visit the settings
outside the home to work alongside practitioners to assist their
The Government supports the recommendation that all
early years, childcare and play sector workers should have access
to continuous professional development. Qualified Teachers will
be involved with every private and voluntary sector setting to
help improve the quality of provision. We have set Partnerships
a target to achieve a ratio of 1 qualified teacher to every 10
nonmaintained sector setting by 2004 and have provided resource
to ensure that all Foundation Stage practitioners can access at
least 4 days of relevant training per year, by 2004. The Learning
and Skills Council has been asked to work with Partnerships to
give a boost to short course training. Partnerships will have
funding to help them to support access to training and development.
40. We recommend that further education, higher
education and other training institutions should develop more
flexible training options (such as distance learning, workplace
training and modularised training), to increase access across
The Government agrees with the Committee's recommendation.
In particular the Government is aware of the need
to offer more flexible routes into ITT. Discussions have been
held with higher education institutions about recognizing how
an NVQ Level 4 in Early Years Care and Education can contribute
towards a degree. Last year, new, flexible, "modular"
postgraduate ITT routes were introduced by a number of ITT providers.
These new, flexible routes offer candidates individually tailored
training that matches their needs and circumstances, and takes
account of prior learning and experience. Candidates can start
their training course when it suits them best (not just at the
beginning of the academic year in September), and the training
and assessment is broken up into flexible modules, which candidates
can undertake when it is most convenient for them. This may enable
them to gain Qualified Teacher Status whilst at the same time,
meeting any existing commitments.
Alternatively, applicants may consider the Graduate
Teacher Programme (GTP). The GTP is an employment based route,
open to all those aged 24 or over who possess a degree or equivalent
qualification. It enables schools to employ graduates as unqualified
teachers and to lead them through an individual training programme
leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The usual time scale
for this programme is twelve months, but can be shorter.
Partnerships and the LSC will work together to identify
demand for training and should consider accessibility to individuals
when choosing methods of delivery.
42. We recommend that higher education institutions,
in conjunction with the Teacher Training Agency, should develop
Early Years training options at higher levels (postgraduate) to
enhance the Early Years trainer work force. We recommend that
the Teacher Training Agency should sponsor places on Early Years
The Government's priority has been to help EYDCPs
to achieve quality improvements at practitioner level. We acknowledge
the importance of developing and sustaining the skills and competence
of trainers and will enter discussions with the appropriate training
and further and higher education institutions with a view to providing
support as resources allow.
43. We recommend that the Early Years National
Training Organisation should take a strong lead in the dissemination
of the new Early Years qualifications 'climbing frame' to ensure
that employers and parents understand what the range of qualifications
The Government supports this recommendation.
We are currently funding the Early Years National
Training Organisation for a number of projects that will build
on the development and understanding of the QCA framework.
44. We recommend that the OFSTED's Director of
Early Years should have substantial experience of the care and
education of young children. In our view it is also essential
that there should be a strong element of both Early Years experience
of education and care within the team.
The Government welcomes OFSTED's choice for the position
of Early Years Director. We are confident that Maggie Smith's
experience, particularly as director of children's services UK
for Barnardo's, and previously as head of children's services
in Manchester, will be invaluable as she establishes the new Directorate,
taking forward further developments in the regulation of early
years and childcare.
OFSTED is currently recruiting senior team, knowledge
and experience of the sector will be one of the competencies required.
The Care Standards Act includes provision for staff currently
undertaking this work to move to OFSTED therefore existing levels
of knowledge and experience will be maintained.
45. In our view OFSTED should recognise that the
manner of inspection should change from the current climate of
extreme stress in schools both before and during an OFSTED inspection
to one of support.
OFSTED have confirmed that they have been aware of
these concerns for some time and have taken continuous steps to
reduce the stress which inspection may impose on schools. Recent
changes have been the shorter period of notice (6-10 weeks), short
inspections for the most effective schools and greater dialogue
between inspections and teachers. Postinspection support
is properly the responsibility of the LEA, as set out in the Code
for LEAschool relationships.
46. We recommend that the inspection should include
the self evaluation undertaken in the setting, so that it will
be more effective in improving the quality of provision.
The Government agrees that selfevaluation in
settings should be integral to their quality improvement plans.
Self evaluation will form part of the regulatory system under
new arrangements being developed by OFSTED's new Early Years Directorate
which is scheduled to operate from September 2001. The Department
is in discussion with OFSTED colleagues to determine how this
might operate within the inspection frameworks.
47. We expect to subject the performance of the
OFSTED Early Years Director to regular scrutiny as part of the
accountability of OFSTED to Parliament, specifically to this Select
The Committee's view is noted. We welcome the Committee's
48. We recommend that the Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should continue to be supported in
every way, but particularly in the consistent training for members
The Government agrees that Partnerships should continue
to be supported and that consistent training for members and Chairs
is important. This is why we are adding a major new training element
to the support programme we have for partnerships this year. Over
£0.25 million is being invested in a programme running over
the first half of this year designed to help Chairs and members
make the most of the skills and competences they have, to help
them identify areas for development and to provide training and
development opportunities. We will also be continuing our extensive
partnership support programme and enhancing this with the introduction
of a mentoring programme to help Partnerships learn from each
other and to share good practice and experience.
49. We recommend that all Early Years Development
and Childcare Partnerships should work towards establishing an
independent Chair who is acceptable to all members.
The Government agrees with the recommendation. The
Partnership planning guidance for 2001-2002 again makes clear
that the Government would like to see more independent Chairs
and that it is good practice for the Chair to be elected by members
at the first meeting of the Partnership each year. The Chair should
be independent in their action, regardless of the sector they
come from, encouraging all members to participate and be heard.
Many Chairs from the local authority sector are nonetheless admirably
independent in the way they chair meetings.
50. We recommend that quality should be monitored
closely by the DfEE where Early Years Development and Childcare
Partnerships are not working well and that these Partnerships
should be identified, supported and have the opportunity to observe
and emulate good practice where it already exists.
The Government agrees with the recommendation. We
have recently recruited eight Partnership Advisers, most coming
directly from Partnership backgrounds, to work with all Partnerships
across the country with the intention of helping all to reach
the level of the best. These new advisers are being well received
by the Partnerships and are already having a positive impact.
Together with our extensive Partnership support and development
programmes, the advisers have a key role in raising quality, spreading
good practice and developing the expertise of local partnerships.
51. We recommend that every meeting of an Early
Years Development and Childcare Partnership should be open and
that members of the public should be invited and encouraged to
The Government agrees with the recommendation. The
Partnership Planning Guidance for 2001-02 again makes clear the
Governments view that Partnership meetings should be open to the
public. If a Partnership decides against open meetings the reasons
must be fully recorded for scrutiny.
52. We recommend that the increased Government
investment in early education and care should be sustained over
a longterm period.
The Government is grateful for the Committee's recognition
of the huge investment it has made in early years education and
childcare services. This will continue into the future with a
doubling of the funding for early years education from £1
billion in 1996-97 to £2 billion by 2003-04.
Funding for childcare will more than triple from
the current level of £66 million in 2000-2001 to more than
£200 million a year by 2003-2004. This includes a massive
investment of more than £200 million over 2001-2004 in the
new Neighbourhood Nurseries initiative. £155 million new
money will also be available through the New Opportunities Fund
for support of childcare initiatives in disadvantaged areas, in
addition to the £170 million currently available through
the Fund for out of school childcare
Funding for Sure Start will increase from the current
level of £184 million to £499 million in 2003-04.
53. We recommend that those responsible in the
DfEE should continue to review the relative fairness of access
to funding for places, staff, resources, capital, and training
across the sectors in the Early Years.
The DfEE will continue to keep under review access
to funding to ensure that it remains as fair as possible.
54. We recommend that the longterm aim of
DfEE Early Years funding policy should be to ensure the development
of a diverse and innovative preschool sector which meets
the need of children and parents in all situations.
The aim of this Government is to increase diversity
and choice in preschool education for all parents. Whilst
valuing the contribution of the maintained sector a good proportion
of the initial funding for three year olds has gone to the private,
voluntary and independent sectors. This has ensured that there
is currently a wide diversity of provision available in many areas,
in a variety of settings, for parents to choose from.
55. We recommend that the advances in knowledge
about brain development should be kept under examination by DfEEfunded
researchers in the education field so that Early Years policy
is kept up to date and consistent with the available scientific
The Government supports the recommendation that early
years policy development should be informed by the latest research.
We continue to monitor all relevant research.
20 March 2001