Union promise of free breakfasts ‘first step on road to rebuilding child care’ | early childhood education

Labor will rebuild a new childcare system to ease the pressure on parents from ‘the end of parental leave until the end of primary school’, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said, in starting with a commitment to free breakfast clubs.

Phillipson will announce on Wednesday that fully-funded breakfast clubs for every primary school in England would be funded from revenue generated by restoring the top income tax rate to 45p, if Labor were elected.

But in an interview with the Guardian, Phillipson said the breakfast clubs were just “the first step down the road” in what would be a massive childcare offer ahead of the next election, and that the childcare would be one of the issues on the party’s pledge card. .

Phillipson said there was a new understanding of how lack of investment in childcare stunts growth, as well as how it would benefit child development and career and development. parental well-being.

“The cost of living crisis has particularly shed light on the really tough choices parents are facing right now. It is usually the women, unfortunately, who end up giving up their jobs because the childcare they need is not available, and that needs to change.

Phillipson said the party’s offer at election time would mean “thinking very differently about child care…it’s a very important part of supporting families and how we grow the economy. This is the first step towards the modern child care system we need.

Speaking after spending the morning with children at Holy Cross Primary School in central Liverpool, Phillipson said breakfast clubs could be delivered ‘quickly and simply’, but parents either had to pay to access it, or be subsidized by school budgets, which were shrinking.

New data from Labor suggests that at least 800,000 children do not have access to early morning supplies – a fifth of schoolchildren in England – and those who do often face barriers due to cost or limits on how many can access breakfast clubs.

The shadow education secretary said the labor childcare program would include a plan to support those working in childcare. Photography: Christopher Furlong/Getty

Phillipson said there were still huge gaps in the provision of early childhood childcare, with parents only able to access very limited taxpayer support until the children were two years old . Phillipson said the cost-of-living crisis is exacerbating that problem. “We have seen a big drop in the number of women returning to work after having their first child over the past year,” she said.

“It’s a personal tragedy for these women who desperately want to get back to work, but it means that as an economy we’re losing bright, talented people. And it comes at an economic cost too.

“You can’t grow your economy unless you invest and have the right support in place around childcare.”

Phillipson, who has served as shadow education secretary since November last year, will face two key challenges over the next few months in her brief – a campaign by Liz Truss to increase the child-to-staff ratio at daycares in the early childhood and the measures taken by Conservative backbenchers, tacitly supported by Number 10, to allow the opening of new secondary schools.

She said Labor would oppose both moves, saying changing the ratios ‘will reduce quality, won’t lead to lower costs for parents, and that’s not what parents want’ .

She said Labour’s childcare program over the coming year will include a workforce plan for the sector. “Those who work in our child care centers are often not well supported, do not have access to professional development and are among the lowest paid workers in our society,” she said. “But they do the most important work to give our children the best possible start in life.

“Teachers couldn’t do their job without the incredible school support staff who provide this and they will play an important role in ensuring we can deliver these breakfast clubs in every school.”

Over the coming year, Phillipson will focus on refining Labor’s plan for primary and secondary schools, including a more comprehensive curriculum, which Phillipson has already spoken about when defining the post catch-up strategy. -Party covid.

“The program in particular has become far too narrow. We have seen music, sport and theater completely squeezed out. And that means that, especially for kids whose parents can’t afford extra clubs and activities, they don’t have access to those enriching activities that are part of what makes childhood such a wonderful time for children, but it is also absolutely vital in terms of children’s development. »

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