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Labour wants graduate-led nurseries to fight inequality

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Bridget Phillipson says early-years education key to improving life chances
Crerar, P.
Publication Date: 
3 Jul 2023


More graduate teachers would be parachuted into nurseries under plans being considered by Labour to improve education for under-fours, the Guardian has learned.

There could also be more nursery places in primary school settings as the opposition works up proposals to drive up standards and formally integrate early years into the English education system.

Experts have long argued that nurseries should employ degree-level early years teachers, alongside other staff, to help toddlers develop skills including speech and language before they start primary school.

Currently, however, nurseries are struggling to recruit and retain staff, who can receive higher wages in retail jobs, forcing some childcare settings to close.

The shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, said she wanted to put early years on an equal footing with schools to give children the best start in life in a way that could not be reversed by future Conservative governments, which had “chipped away” at Sure Start.

In an interview with the Guardian, she said: “We know that so much is determined for children early on and that you can make the biggest impact in the early years, yet the system we’ve got right now deprioritises so much of what goes on in our early years settings.

“We need to raise the standing of the sector, make it part of the education system so that it is regarded with the same parity as our schools. What you achieve in the early years makes such a big difference.”