More than half a million children in independent (private) nurseries are being deprived of the benefits of a qualified early years teacher, according to the Read On Get On. campaign. This number includes many of the poorest children, who are most at risk of falling behind in basic language and reading skills and most in need of skilled teaching support.
New figures show that half of the nation’s independent nurseries do not employ a single graduate teacher. Read On. Get On. warns that many poor children are already behind before they even start school – contributing to the fact that 1 in 3 of the poorest children leave primary school unable to read well.
Four weeks out from polling day there remains no cross party commitment to tackle the nation’s reading crisis. Read On. Get On. – a coalition of leading charities, teachers, parents and businesses – is calling on the next government to ensure all nurseries have at least one early years trained graduate, so the poorest children get the best start in life.
The value of strong reading skills in school-age children for future earnings as an adult is shown in new Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) research funded by Read On. Get On.
The IFS study found that, among children from poor backgrounds, the best readers at age 10 will go on to earn 20% more per hour on average at age 40 than those with the poorest reading skills. That could be equivalent to an extra day’s wages each week. As an illustration, a 20% increase in hourly pay for those on the lowest incomes would make the difference between earning the minimum wage and the living wage.
New report from Read On. Get On.
Read On. Get On.’s new report, The Power of Reading, details how the lack of priority given to early years investment, and the quality of staff in nurseries in particular, will mean that the gap in reading ability between England’s poorest and better off children will remain one of the worst in Europe – unless urgent action is taken early in the next parliament.
For too many children, the learning gap has opened up before they even start school. In independent nurseries – which represent 75% of the nation’s nurseries – children from poorer families are less likely to receive good quality support than their better off peers, crushing their potential.
With only 13% of staff in independent nurseries having a relevant degree, Read On. Get On. is calling for every nursery in England to be led by a qualified early years teacher. 11,000 more graduates are needed, particularly in independent nurseries serving disadvantaged areas.
Increasing the early years pupil premium to £1,300 for all three- and four-year-olds, but making this enhanced rate available only to nurseries who employ an early years teacher, would create a strong quality incentive. Rolled out over the course of the next parliament, this would significantly improve educational outcomes by 2020 for children growing up in poverty.
Dame Julia Cleverdon CBE, Chair of the Read On. Get On. campaign said:
“It’s time to make nurseries the frontline in tackling social mobility in this country. Every child deserves a fair start in life – regardless of the wealth of their family. By providing quality and qualified teaching in every nursery, we can ensure every child arrives at school with the building blocks in place to learn to read and succeed.”
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:
“Without the ability to read well, access to the skills, knowledge and understanding needed for a career is difficult.
“Investing in early years education to get children reading more frequently and confidently, could create a level playing field of opportunity from the very start, and give every young person the best possible preparation for their lives and future careers.”
Gareth Jenkins, Director of UK Poverty for Save the Children, said:
“At Save the Children, we believe the next government must prioritise investment in quality nursery care if we are to give every child a chance to lead a life free of poverty and full of potential. The new IFS research released today shows that those who leave primary school able to read well earn much more as adults many decades later.”
James Westhead, Executive Director at Teach First, a member of the Fair Education Alliance, said:
“If we are to ensure poorer children get a better start in life – bringing high quality graduates and career changers into the profession, and developing them as qualified early years teachers, is essential. Teach First will be doubling our number of Early Years teachers across London, the South East and for the first time the West Midlands this September.”