Two bold new initiatives to improve access to early education services for London’s children were launched yesterday at the Mayor’s Early Years Conference.
Currently almost a third of eligible families are missing out on free early education for their two-year-olds, with only 61 per cent of eligible two-year-olds in London in free early years education, compared to 72 per cent across England.
The figures, published yesterday in the Mayor’s Early Years in London report, also showed a huge disparity across the capital’s local authorities – with Sutton exceeding its allocation of free early education spaces for 2-year-olds, but just 47% of places in Tower Hamlets taken up.
The Mayor’s London Early Years campaign aims to tackle this problem by providing grants of between £8,000 and £15,000 to 11 organisations who are running projects to boost awareness. This includes Family Lives in Westminster which is helping more than 400 low-income families with complex needs, South London Tamil Welfare Group which is helping the borough’s Tamil households, and Minki Kardes Ltd, which is helping Turkish and Kurdish speaking families in Hackney.
Alongside this, the Mayor has provided £250,000 for a new Early Years Leaders programme designed to support nurseries, playgroups and childminders in improving their leadership, management and business skills.
The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) will work with a range of childcare providers to improve outcomes for children through Early Years Leaders, a tailored coaching programme. The NDNA aims to support 30 coaches who will work with a further 90 childcare practitioners across the capital to develop their management skills and improve the overall quality of early education and childcare provision in London.
The new programmes were unveiled as education professionals from across London came together at City Hall in an event hosted by The Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, Joanne McCartney. At the conference, representatives from Public Health England, Ofsted, Department for Education, councils and nurseries discussed the future of early years education and considered how City Hall could best support children with special education needs and disabilities.
The new schemes build on the successful work already being done to improve access to early years education in the capital, including the Mayor’s Early Years Hubs and Healthy Early Years London.
The Early Years Hubs in Barnet, Wandsworth and Merton and Newham are helping children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to access high quality early years education, including special needs education, and childcare. The Mayor’s Healthy Early Years London award scheme is a city-wide programme with more than 1,000 nurseries, children’s centres, schools, playgroups and childminders registered to support infants and pre-school children in developing habits which promote their physical and emotional health.
Both schemes are key parts of the Mayor’s new Health Inequalities Strategy which is designed to make the capital a healthier and fairer city by not only keeping people well but tackling the conditions and behaviours that adversely affect health.