The Government’s 30 hours policy is “entrenching inequality rather than closing the gap”, according to a new report by the Education Select Committee.

In its report, Tackling Disadvantage in the Early Years, the cross-party group of MPs argues that the Government has a confused approach to early years education, and policies such as 30-hour childcare appear to be entrenching disadvantage. The report highlights that current policy is putting financial pressure on providers, giving more advantaged children more quality care while impacting the availability of childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds. It says:

“We recommend that the Government review its 30 hours childcare policy to address the perverse consequences for disadvantaged children. The Government should reduce the earnings cap for the 30 hours childcare and use the extra funding to provide early education for disadvantaged children.”

The Committee is calling for Government action in three key areas to help tackle the social injustices which currently exist in early years education and childcare.

  1. The Government should reform the 30 hours free childcare offer and target provision to early education for disadvantaged children.

  2. Maintained nursery schools should be fully funded.

  3. The Government should develop a comprehensive strategy to join up early years services and build on the success of children’s centres and other provision, such as family hubs.

The Committee is also calling on the Government to develop a workforce strategy for early years at the earliest opportunity.

The full report is available here.

Last reviewed 11 February 2019