Commenting on Labour's plans to extend free childcare, announced by Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Party Conference today, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:
“Early years is the most crucial phase of education. If children fall behind at this stage it can prove difficult, often impossible, for them to catch up later, even with additional help. It is therefore obvious that the most cost-effective way to improve educational outcomes for all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is by investing in early years education.
“We therefore welcome Labour’s plans to extend the 30 hours free childcare promise to all children from 2 years old. Our members passed a motion asking for exactly this at NAHT’s Annual Conference earlier this year, so we know it will be welcomed by school leaders.
“The crucial thing to ensure is that sufficient funding is allocated to the scheme. At the moment the government’s funding to early years providers for the 30 free hours falls short. The DfE’s own recently released report showed that the rollout of 30 hours free childcare has moved 17% of providers from a position of making a profit to only just breaking even, and an even more worrying further 8% from breaking even to reporting a loss.
“School leaders would be very keen to make an extended childcare pledge work, but warn that it is simply unsustainable without sufficient investment from the government.”
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