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‘Best Beginnings’, an in-depth examination of early years provision in England

By July 21, 2020National News

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published a report looking at the provision of early years services for children across the country, alongside a warning that many nurseries are at risk of closure, hitting the life chances of some of the most vulnerable children and holding back the economic recovery following lockdown. 

The report describes a system that is disjointed and often failing to target those disadvantaged children with development problems who most need early help. 

It comes amid a recent warning from childcare providers that one in four nurseries and pre-schools fear closure within the year, rising to one in three in the most disadvantaged areas, as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. 

The report shows the need for an overhaul of the early years system in England. It details how too many children, particularly those growing up in disadvantaged families, are already behind by the time they start formal education.

Last year, 29% of five- year-olds in England were not at the expected level of development by the time they started school, including 45% of children receiving Free School Meals. In Middlesbrough, 38% of children are not achieving the expected level of development aged 5, while in Dudley and Sandwell it is 35% of children. 

You can read the report in full here (opens in a new tab) 

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