I agree there is a strong evidence base from the UK and around the world that shows high-quality early education has long lasting benefits for children. Indeed, analysis has shown that pre-school is of particular importance to children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I know that the Government is committed to ensuring that all children are able to fulfil their potential. I am assured that the quality of nursery staff is good and has been improving. Between 2008 and 2013, the proportion of staff with at least a level three qualification – which is equivalent to an A-level – grew from 75 per cent to 87 per cent. A record number of providers are now rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.
However, there is still more work to be done to make sure every child gets the best start. Ministers are working hard to attract talented staff and retain the best people in our nurseries. The Government is developing a workforce strategy that aims to remove the barriers to attracting, retaining and developing great people and is investing a record £6 billion in childcare by the end of this Parliament.
You may be interested to know that the Department for Education (DfE) has also commissioned a major piece of research – the Study of Early Education and Development – to understand more about how high-quality early education affects attainment and social and behavioural development up to the age of seven. You can find out more about it here: www.seed.natcen.ac.uk.