THE government’s dodgy plans for free childcare hours could set back social mobility, the Sutton Trust warned yesterday.
From this month, parents of three and four-year-olds who are in work will be given 30 hours of free childcare per week, double the previous amount.
But the Sutton Trust says it comes at the cost of widening the attainment gap between toddlers from the richest and poorest families.
It said that a focus on quantity over quality could undo current progress.
In 2007, there was a 21.2 per cent gap in “school readiness” between both camps, decreasing to 17.7 per cent by 2015.
The poorest benefit from early years education delivered by qualified professionals. But the government has axed financial support for graduate training for early years professionals and plans to remove the requirement for nursery and reception teachers to be properly qualified.
Sure Start centres in poorer areas are also no longer required to offer early years education taught by graduates.
The trust noted that, since 2010, Tory and Lib Dem welfare cuts have had a devastating financial effect on parents due to the benefits cap, scrapping benefits for babies and changes to the tax credit system.
And National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said that the report confirmed that government policies were destroying England’s high-quality early years education.
“High-quality early years education that is properly funded and run by a qualified teacher is essential to ensure every child has the best start in life,” he said.
He warned that the government’s sustained cuts to early-years education were “likely to further damage quality provision.”