More qualified teachers would be parachuted into nurseries as part of Labor Party plans to improve education for under-fours, the Guardian has learned.
There could also be more crèche places in primary schools as the opposition draws up proposals to raise standards and formally integrate the early years into the English education system.
Experts have long argued that nurseries should employ qualified early childhood teachers, alongside other staff, to help toddlers develop skills, including speech and language, before they start childcare. primary school.
Currently, however, nurseries are struggling to recruit and retain staff, who may receive higher wages in retail jobs, forcing some nurseries to close.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said she wanted to put the early years on a level playing field with schools to give children the best start in life in a way that couldn’t not be reversed by future Conservative governments, which had “trimmed” at Sure Commencer.
In an interview with the Guardian, she said: “We know that so much is determined for children from the start and that you can have the biggest impact in the early years, but the system we have now does not give priority to much of what happens on in our early years settings.
“We must raise the status of the sector, integrate it into the education system so that it is considered with the same parity as our schools. What you accomplish in the early years makes such a big difference.
Phillipson, who will feature Keir Starmer at the launch of the last of Labour’s five political missions on Thursday, said she was ‘committed to delivering graduate-led nurseries’ and more training for childminders with a plan in hand -work to obtain a more qualified staff teaching the youngest children.
With school enrollments falling in many parts of England, including London, and childcare ‘deserts’ in areas such as Cumbria and the South West, Labor officials are also looking closely at how which they integrate early childhood education into existing primary schools.
“In so many communities, there just aren’t any spaces for children, and that’s why we’re making plans to allow councils to provide more child care spaces,” she said.
There are around 400 state-run crèches in England, all with university-level leadership and attached to primary schools, and a further 1,300 primary schools with no early years facility on site. There are thousands of other private crèches.
Labor has been reluctant to commit to extra spending on education as they try to convince voters they can be fiscally responsible ahead of the next election. However, Phillipson hinted that a Labor government would focus on the early years as the economy recovers.
“When I visit secondary schools, the head teachers say to me: if you have more money to spend, please go and spend it on the first years, because by the time the children come to my door , so many things have already been determined and we are doing our best, but it is really difficult,” she said.
“We need to start earlier and focus on the early years, because by the time kids get to school, that gap has already started to widen.”
Phillipson denied the chancellor stole a childcare march from the budget when he announced a £4billion extension to free childcare for all preschoolers from 2025. “Jeremy Hunt didn’t shoot our fox at all. In fact, it gave us a better foundation from which to build a better system,” she said.
Education faced “enormous pressures” that would take time – and money that Labor was unable to commit – to address, she said. But she would have a “clear plan” to take office.