GOVERNMENT’S EARLY YEARS POLICY EXPANDS ATTAINMENT GAP, SAYS THINK TANK

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Reform Scotland says well-meaning policy has a regrettable unintended consequence

Reform Scotland, the independent think tank, has called on the Scottish Government to urgently adapt its early years funding policy in order to end the discrimination at the heart of the current regime.

In a new briefing paper – Closing the early years gap – Reform Scotland has highlighted the inequality in the Scottish Government’s provision, which it says leads to only around 50% of children receiving the full two years of provision which the Government says it offers (see notes to editors).

Only children born between March and August are guaranteed to receive the full two years’ entitlement, with children born thereafter receiving only 18 months’ worth. Children born in January and February, but starting school aged 4, receive only 15 months which, based on the Government’s expansion to 1,140 hours per year, means that the younger children will be entitled to over 750 hours less than the older children in their year-group.

Commenting, Reform Scotland Research Director Alison Payne said:

“This week thousands of children across Scotland will be starting school for the first time. While every child is different and develops at their own pace, the fact that some children will have received two years of government-funded early years education while others received far less is simply unacceptable. It is creating an attainment gap before school has even started. 

“The Government has recognised the vital role early years provision plays in the development of a child and Reform Scotland has welcomed its progressive policy in this area at every turn. However, the huge inequality in entitlement  is a regrettable unintended consequence and the Government must now take steps to address it.

“This is an easy fix. Just as all children, irrespective of their birth date, are entitled to seven years of primary school education with a single start point, they should also all be entitled to two years of early years and childcare with a single start point, probably the August, two years before they are due to start school.

“The Government knows this discrimination exists. Ignoring this issue can contribute to the attainment gap at a time when the Government seeks to reduce it. The ball is in the Government’s court to level the playing field.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The paper – Closing the early years gap – can be read using the link below.
  2. Data from the National Record of Scotland indicates that since 1990 roughly half of all children born each year are registered in the six months between March and August. This means that only 50% of all children are guaranteed to receive two full years for government funded early years education.
  3. Media: for more information contact Message Matters (Andy Maciver; andy@messagematters.co.uk; 07855 261 244)
  4. Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. Further information is available at www.reformscotland.com.

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