NCB response to new Early Years consultation

In response to the Early Years consultation announcement, 31 May, Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said:

“NCB welcomes the commitment from the government that supporting the early years sector is a priority. However, today’s proposals focus more on increasing flexibility and availability of provision and too little on delivering a high-quality and inclusive experience for all children.

“NCB is concerned that these proposals, taken alongside the previous decision to relax staff to child ratios, could impact the appropriate safeguarding of children. Today’s proposals have the potential to send the wrong message, indicating that the government is ready to prioritise availability over quality and safety. 

“The early years workforce faces significant challenges of retention and recruitment, and it is right that efforts are made to reduce workloads and increase the status of early years educators, one of the key commitments outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It is essential, however, that this does not come at the cost of quality early education, and that practitioners feel valued and supported in the crucial role they play in young children’s lives.

“Significantly, these proposals may move us further away from the inclusive system that we all should expect. For some children with additional needs or special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), settings already struggle to find suitably trained staff that can meet their needs, and reducing qualification levels seems to be taking us in the wrong direction.

We welcome the proposal to alleviate known burdens and to ensure the EYFS is a more practical and usable framework for all provider types, but it is vital that the quality and safety of provision, professionalism of the workforce, and support for an inclusive and cohesive sector are all protected throughout any changes made. 

“It is important to emphasise that this is a consultation process, and there is an opportunity to examine the government’s proposals in detail. It is essential that the voice of parents and practitioners are heard throughout this process, and we will be supporting the sector to engage in the consultation and have their voices heard.”