Our reaction to Leadsom Review
Babies and very young children are too often overlooked by policymakers, but the past year has reminded us just how fragile their welfare is.
Andrea Leadsom’s report points to the urgent improvements that are needed to support children during the vital period from conception to age two, including inclusive and accessible information for parents, more joined up services, and stronger leadership at local and national level.
The report asks the right questions but now we need to know that the Government is prepared to deliver the right answers. We welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a Cabinet level minister to see these reforms through, and their role will be crucial in bringing an often-fragmented system together. Attention must also turn to the Treasury, who must ensure these promises to parents are fully funded in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Busy families with young children rely on an array of different services and if these integrate well with each other, then outcomes improve. We need places where parents can go to be sign-posted to the help they may need at different times. It doesn’t matter if these are called family hubs, children’s centres, pre-schools or nurseries. What is important is that they are places that know local parents and in turn, local parents know them and the support they can provide.
But while well integrated local services are important, they can’t come about without a national, cross-government vision for how we support childhood, starting in the early years and leading all the way to adulthood.
Early years practitioners are some of the most undervalued professionals in the country. If we are serious about improving the lives of young children, we must make sure the early years workforce benefits from high quality professional development and acess to the latest research and training.
The pandemic has driven a wedge through a society that was already unequal, with children in poorer families and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups hit the hardest. Andrea Leadsom’s recommendations will only succeed if we address these deep- rooted problems, and tackle the exclusion, racism, inadequate housing and poverty that prevent too many children from reaching their potential.