Oldham Labour will ask full Council next week to support a demand for fair funding for Oldham’s early years children.

Well-established research underlines the importance of early childhood education as an essential building block of a child’s future success. Early years education provides a strong base for future learning. Ensuring children are school ready really matters for toddlers and infants born during the pandemic who missed out on crucial learning opportunities.

Oldham had started to make good progress improving the ‘Good level of development’ which tells us how children are doing when they start school but, like in the rest of the country, the pandemic has made things worse.

Childcare is a fundamental building block of the economy and many working parents and parents who are undertaking education or training are dependent on childcare provision. If there are not enough childcare places available this significantly impacts on businesses, the health service, education, and many other sectors of the economy.

Yet over the last decade, early years services have been neglected by the Conservative Government.

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has warned, “Nurseries across the UK are being forced to close or reduce their services at an alarming rate because they are struggling to recruit and retain staff.” The Conservative Government has suggestion increasing the staff / child ratio for two-year-olds to 5 children per staff member to ease the staffing crisis.

Councillor Leanne Munroe, Cabinet lead for Early Years said ’ Daycare provision has been closing across Oldham including Stepping Stones Nursery in Uppermill and Hillside Nursery in Sholver. Nurseries struggled through the Pandemic because the Government didn’t give enough cash to keep them going. On top of this, they are also being hit by cost of living pressures and are struggling to pay enough to retain well qualified staff. Tweaking staff/child ratios for two-year-olds isn’t the answer. The Government needs to pay an hourly rate that actually covers the cost of providing care.’

The Government has just launched a consultation on updating the funding formulae for the early education entitlements for children aged 2, 3 and 4 to use up-to-date data. The consultation closes on the 16th September 2022.

Councillor Eddie Moores, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People added ‘The issue here isn’t which dataset the Government uses but that the system itself is unfair and means Oldham children get less per head than similar Councils and less than the national average. The cost of living is rising much faster than the level of Government funding. Investing in early years means children start school at the right level of development and do better throughout their education. It’s much better to get things right at the start than spend money helping them to catch up later on.’

Councillor Eddie Moores
Councillor Eddie Moores
Councillor Leanne Munroe
Councillor Leanne Munroe
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