The EECC’s manifesto for the Early Years system in England

The EECC’s manifesto for the Early Years system in England

Recently the Early Education and Childcare Coalition (EECC) published its manifesto to transform Early Education and Childcare in England. This manifesto calls on the next government to focus on and invest in Early Years as the foundation of future success, rather than to concentrate solely on the latter stages of the education journey. The EECC urges the government to recognise the benefits for all of society when this sector is properly invested in. It outlines the need to ‘rescue’ the early education system from the current challenges it is facing, but also the need to reform the system, a system which is underfunded, unequal and inaccessible to those most in need of it.

The Early Education and Childcare Coalition (EECC)

The EECC unites the voices of many stakeholders of the Early Years sector including children, parents and providers. While the EECC represents many different groups, they all share a single vision to build a world-class Early Years system that supports children, parents and the economy.

The importance of Early Years

The EECC describes Early Years as vital infrastructure that delivers benefits to not only the immediate user but to wider society as well. Access to high-quality Early Years can have a significant impact on the development of a child as well as the rest of their educational journey. This is an even truer statement for children with special educational needs and disabilities, as well as those experiencing disadvantage. Early Years also enables parents to go to work, which reduces the risk of children growing up in poverty.

Issues identified in the Early Years sector in England

While the EECC acknowledges that there is much to be proud of in the Early Years sector, they describe the sector as being fragile. While the sector is dealing with rising operational costs and insufficient funding from government schemes, providers are also experiencing severe retention and recruitment challenges as a result of poor pay and a widespread feeling of being undervalued.

Recommendations

The EECC made several recommendations to achieve movement beyond crisis and towards a constructive, genuine partnership between all Early Years’ stakeholders and government. Once again, they called for a number of both rescue and reform measures.

1. Rescue

The EECC calls on the government to establish an independent National Early Education and Childcare Commission to improve the current system. This new body should prioritise inclusion, equality and access for all children, establish sustainable and fair funding and design a workforce strategy to address the shortage of childminders.

2. Reform

The EECC recommends the following long-term measures to ensure the sector is fit for purpose for all children and families:

  • A review of policy, regulation and practice building on the ‘Best Start for Life’ to ensure the system recognises the importance of the early years of child development.
  • A review of the current funding model to ensure maximum social return along with a review of parental leave and flexible working to allow families to balance work and caring responsibilities.
  • A plan to reduce the cost of Early Years for families to no more than 5% of their household income within ten years.
Priorities for the new government

The EECC sets out the following three priorities for the government to ensure that the system is rescued and reformed adequately:

  • Priority 1: Guarantee that all children can access inclusive, high-quality provision that is affordable for their parents.
  • Priority 2: Commit to sustainable and fair funding for all types of providers.
  • Priority 3: Establish and invest in an Early Years workforce strategy.
Conclusion

Early Childhood Ireland will continue to monitor the work of EECC in England, along with political developments. You can read their manifesto in full on their website.

If you have any questions or queries about our work, please contact [email protected]

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