Education International
Education International

UK: Early years' education needs highest level of support

published 18 August 2016 updated 24 August 2016

In response to the UK government’s proposals outlined in the Early Years National Funding Formula consultation, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers reiterated that significant investment in early years’ education is essential.

“It is vital the sector gets the highest levels of support to ensure children have the best start to their education and their lives,” said, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).

Her union has continually challenged the hourly funding rates and identified them as being too low, she said, adding that, while any increase to this rate is welcome, it is unlikely that the small increase proposed will address the funding issues for early years’ providers.

Differentiated approach needed

The Government’s proposal to use a universal base rate to fund providers implies that all providers are the same. This is not the case, Keates said. As it stands, “this proposal could place the future of maintained nursery provision at risk”.

The NASUWT believes that a differentiated approach is preferable and would allow different providers to be supported in ways that best suit their needs and the expectations placed on them in terms of the services they deliver.

Access to quality provision

Noting that the proposals set out a rapid timeframe for the transition to the new national funding formula and the universal base rate, Keates insisted that “the Government’s desire to introduce these changes should not be allowed to jeopardise its stated commitment to improving access to quality early years provision”.

She went on to stress that “the NASUWT will fully engage in the consultation process to represent the views of its members, the early years’ sector and the teaching profession”.

Government proposals

To change the funding provision for early years’ education, the Department for Education’s proposals include:

• Introducing a new early years national funding formula

• Changing the way local authorities fund the early years' providers in their area

• Making sure that children with special educational needs or disabilities attract the extra funding they need

The Department for Education’s consultation is open until 22 September.