I believe that having access to good quality childcare and early years education is vital for families in Worsley & Eccles South and across the country.
All children, whatever their background or gender, should be ready for school by the age of five. However, in the last decade, 500,000 poorer children were not school-ready by the age of five.
I believe that investment in early years is a good way to close the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged children and their better-off peers. I know that Save the Children has campaigned on childcare with a particular emphasis on ensuring that nurseries have access to, and can afford, well qualified staff.
There are currently a range of pressures on the early years sector including severe recruitment problems and a nationwide shortage of trained nursery teachers. Additionally, over 800 Sure Start centres have closed since 2010, around 45,000 childcare places have been lost and 1,000 childcare providers have closed in the last five years. I know that concerns have been raised by childcare providers that there is not sufficient funding in place to support the expansion of the free childcare entitlement to 30 hours from September.
I strongly support high quality teaching, and I believe the pressures created by the GCSE requirement for career progression in nurseries could be alleviated by investing in professional development programmes and creating opportunities for on-the-job development.
I hope the Conservative Government will listen to Save the Children and reflect carefully on all the evidence on this issue. I will continue to press for the funds and resources needed to support the world-class early years provision our area deserves.