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Education Committee Inquiry on Support for childcare and the early years

In January we submitted evidence to the Education Committee Inquiry on Support for Childcare and the Early Years, and it's just been published. Unfortunately we don't think Jeremy Hunt listened to anything from disabled rights groups, workers and parents, before coming up with the childcare plans announced in the 2023 Budget today.

The announcement regarding increasing ratios is a shock, and will make childcare provision less safe and less accessible for disabled children. Comparisons with Scotland are ridiculous – as the NDNA have raised – in Scotland they have a completely different set up – ‘every setting requires a lead practitioner who is qualified to degree level and acts as a manager or deputy. Entry level workers [...] have the equivalent to Level 2 NVQ’.[1]

In response to the Inquiry Call for Evidence we gathered testimony from parents’ nursery campaign groups engaged with our coalition, alongside individual responses to a quick call out we sent to our network of parents and early years workers.

Testimony described how council-run nurseries, integrated with children’s centres, have provided affordable high quality childcare and education, and crucial SEN support.

Parents describe issues with the private sector – limited availability, increased cost, and decreasing quality – including issues with staff consistency, staff training, room sizes, and lack of outdoor space.
The evidence particularly underlines the crucial importance of early identification and support for children with additional learning needs, and shows how parents feel let down by the current system from early years onwards. Sadly, parents of disabled children describe feeling that early years settings can see them as a burden.
They also raise what happens when early identification is missed for children with additional needs, and how important investment in early years staff is, particularly for children with SEND "who need trained staff, different ratios, and consistent key persons."

This evidence was collected at short notice and is by no means comprehensive. We hope that the inquiry will be in touch with us for more information.

We also hope they will be considering and seeking testimony from organisations such as the Voice of Domestic Workers, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, and Nanny Solidarity Network, about the grey sector – where some of the most exploitative childcare working practices happen. The inquiry should also seek to hear from PACEY (re: Childminders) and the relevant unions, including: Unison, NEU, UVW: United Childcare Workers, GMB among others.

Comments include:

"It seems obvious to us that protecting and expanding existing council-run early years provision, would be a more inclusive, fair, approach to investing in childcare and early years education, than the current system of entitlements, and confusing government tax subsidies, that end up profiting private companies."

"The importance of local council run day nurseries in Hillingdon can be evidenced by a survey our campaign ran in August 2022 ...we surveyed 42 parents who had begun looking into, or already moved their children from the council run nurseries to alternative provision – parents commented that quality and availability were a major issue. One parent had found everything local had at least a 12 month waiting list, another noted that the two nearest private nurseries were recently evaluated “inadequate” by Ofsted. [...] The parents of a child with SEN raised how private nurseries lacked experience and wouldn't “take them on”, and also issues with distance of other options due to problems travelling with health conditions. Parents also raised the lower quality of other places available – in terms of room size, outdoor space, staff training for SEND, and food."

Our full submission is here:

You can read other submissions here:



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