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Parents Don't Know If Their Nursery Has A Qualified Teacher

More than a third of parents in England with children under five don’t know whether their nursery employs qualified early years teachers, a YouGov poll commissioned by Save the Children reveals today.

Friday, 17 February 2017 - 7:34am

At the same time, analysis shows that if they don’t have access to these teachers, more than 800,000 children are at greater risk of starting reception behind their peers in areas like literacy and numeracy by the year 2020.

But the consequences won’t end there: of those children who start behind, a quarter will likely remain behind in English when they reach secondary school, and a fifth will remain behind in maths – having potentially devastating consequences for the rest of their schooling and even their careers.

Government stats show that boys and poor children are worst affected, with boys almost twice as likely to be behind as girls in language, and poor children more than twice as likely to be behind than their peers from wealthier backgrounds.

Parents are concerned their own children could be at risk, according to the poll. More than a quarter (28%) worry their child will start primary school behind in literacy and numeracy, and more than half (51%) are worried about sending their child to a nursery without a qualified teacher, leading to calls for the government to invest urgently in the sector:

· Nearly three quarters (73%) of parents want the government to ensure all of England’s nurseries have qualified teachers

· More than 80% think nurseries should help make sure children are ready for school

· More than 70% say they would rather send their child to a nursery with an early years teacher than one without

While all nurseries have staff who are trained to care for children, not all have a qualified early years teachers who are specialists, trained to help children develop their early language and numeracy skills through play, and to help struggling children catch up by the time they reach school.

Children without an early years teacher are almost 10% less likely to meet the expected levels of development when they start school compared to children who do have a teacher.

But currently, there is a huge shortage of 10,000 nursery teachers in England, and the number of applicants are in decline as nurseries struggle with funding pressures and recruitment costs.

Save the Children, along with leading child development experts, is calling on the government to urgently address the shortage by investing in an early years teacher for every nursery, starting in the most deprived areas of the country.

Tesse, a mother of two said: “My daughter went to nursery with an early years teacher before primary school and I’m so glad she did - it made a huge difference to her language and attention skills and it also made her feel more confident.

“Starting reception behind their peers can be an anxious experience and potentially have life-long impacts, but I'm grateful that my daughter was able to start reception with great enthusiasm and ready to learn, which was in large part due to the help from a nursery that had an early years teacher."

Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, a Clinical Psychologist and expert from Channel Four’s “Secret Life of Four Year Olds” programme said: “The early years of a child’s life are without a doubt the most crucial for their learning and development, and likewise, where support for their learning makes the biggest difference.

“Their brains absorb and grow the most when they’re little, learning everything from using words, phrases, and numbers, to understanding the world around them, and building healthy relationships.

“That’s why early years teachers are so important – it’s not about giving toddlers a formal education, but growing their minds through play and simple every day interactions that will give them the best start in life – and that’s something all parents want for their children.”

Kevin Watkins, Chief executive of Save the Children said: “It’s just not acceptable that in this day and age, so many children in England are falling behind before they even set foot in primary school – leaving them at risk of staying behind throughout their school years and into the world of work.

“Nurseries do an incredible job nurturing our children, but financial constraints are leaving many of them struggling to hire the qualified early years teachers who help give children the skills and confidence they need to learn and grow.

“The evidence clearly shows the huge and transformational difference early years teachers can make for children. That’s why we’re calling on government to ensure every nursery has a qualified teacher. It’s an investment we must make to help every child reach their full potential.

Imagery and footage can be downloaded from this link http://storycentral.savethechildren.org.uk/?c=44619&k=38e14f1550

For more information contact the Save the children media team on (0)207 012 6841 or media@savethechildren.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. Our postcode finder tool can be embedded using the code. The tool allows readers to find out how many nurseries in their area have an early years teacher and how that ranks nationally. You can see an example of what this would look like here

2. Early language and communication skills are the fundamental building blocks for a child’s development, confidence and ability to learn. There are currently more than a quarter of a million children starting reception falling behind, struggling to do things like speak full sentences, express their feelings, use basic tenses, and follow simple instructions. This can have a significant impact on the rest of their schooling and their careers, but also on their confidence and their ability to build positive relationships.

3. All poll figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3070 parents with children aged 18 and under, 2579 of which are in England and 944 with children aged 5 and under. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 27th January 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

4. More than 800,000 children; We calculate this figure by assuming a year on year improvement rate of 3ppt in the proportion of children reaching a good level of development (based on the improvement rate between 2015 and 2016). We then use population projections from the ONS to estimate the number of children attending Reception and who are being assessed under the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. We use both figures to then calculate the number of children at risk of not reaching a good level of development between 2016 and 2020.

5. More than 200,000 children; we base this calculation on previous research conducted by the Institute of Education for Save the Children using the Millennium Cohort Study, a major national longitudinal study. This research found that of those children who were behind at five, one in four were still behind in English and one in five were still behind in Maths at age 11. We use these figures to estimate the number of children at risk of still being at 11 based on our calculations of the number of children at risk of being behind at age five.

6. Almost 10% less likely; this figure is taken from research carried out for our previous report Untapped Potential which showed that a child who attended a nursery without an Early Years Teacher or equivalent present was almost 10% less likely to reach the expected level at five as a child who did.

7. 10,000 nursery teachers; these figures are taken from the government’s publication Provision for Children Under 5 which covers all private, voluntary and independent nurseries who deliver the free entitlement to children aged three and four and eligible children aged two.

8. Please contact the media team for the full report