Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, recently visited Little Bo Peeps pre-school in Halling to find out more about early years provision and to discuss how the government can continue to improve the outcomes for children, particularly those from the poorest families.
The Government considers effective investment in early years education to be a key factor in ensuring a child’s future success. A recent report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility suggested that narrowing the gap in children’s earliest years to better prepare children for school will improve school achievement and redress imbalances which mean a fifth of top university places got to privately educated students, when only seven per cent of children go to fee-paying schools.
As part of its ongoing commitment to children the Government recently announced a new scheme to extend and expand free early education. Not only will entitlement to free early education be extended for three and four-year olds from twelve and a half hours per week to fifteen hours per week, from 2013 the entitlement to free education will also be expanded to include two-year olds from the poorest families, going further than any previous Government has done.
Speaking after his visit, Mark Reckless said:
“I was delighted to join the children at Little Bo-Peeps in Halling to see how the children are benefiting from the special care and attention which is available from the hard-working staff. Government initiatives such as extending early years provision are important changes which should improve the outcomes for our children, as was the creation of Sure Start which I am glad to say enjoys continuing support from Medway Council.
It is crucial that we do all we can to ensure all of our children, regardless of background, can realise their full potential. The primary focus for early years provision is to invest in child development – providing children with the care, affection, intellectual stimulus and structured play and learning which prepares them for school.
We have a superb new minister in Liz Truss who has done a lot of serious thinking about early-years education, e.g. do we really need to extend a national curriculum to three year olds or prohibit people from acting as a childminder unless they are expected by OFSTED?
My thanks to Jackie Tickner and all the staff and children at Little Bo-Peeps who made my son Jamie and myself so welcome. He really enjoyed himself, but I don’t think his toy cupboard will ever be as big as the one at the pre-school.”