‘Levelling up’ white paper condemned for failing the early years sector
Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, has said the government’s levelling up white paper will “raise our expectations and aspirations for children by transforming education for the disadvantaged. The paper sets a mission to ensure that 90% of children leaving primary school in England are reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.
However, the plan has been criticised for omitting measures for children in early years.
Within the white paper plans, published on 2nd February, the government has identified 55 national ‘cold spots’ - where school outcomes are the weakest - in a bid to target support to help disadvantaged children succeed.
These cold spots - referred to as Education Investment Areas (EIA) - will be offered retention payments by the DfE ‘to help schools keep the best teachers in the highest priority subjects’.
Nadhim Zahawi said: “This white paper sets out our blueprint for putting skills, schools and families at the heart of levelling up. It focuses on putting great schools in every part of the country, training that sets you up for success in a high-skilled, well-paid career and ensuring no one misses out on opportunities simply because of where they live or their family background.
“Raising our expectations and aspirations for children, as well as creating a high-skilled workforce, will end the brain drain that sees too many people leaving communities in order to succeed. These plans will help create a level playing field and boost the economy, both locally and nationally.”
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “In last week’s parliamentary debate, dozens of MPs agreed that the best way to support children was to invest sufficiently in high quality early education. Evidence shows that this has the greatest impact on educational outcomes.
“So the government focus on its levelling up agenda must start in the early years which is the best opportunity to support their lifelong learning and gives the biggest return on investment. Considering how crucial it is, there is no real support for early years in this white paper.”