London boroughs have considerable concerns about children being left behind because they have missed out on the government’s early years education entitlements during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The damaging effects of a lack of early education could be even longer lasting on generations of children to come if there is a reduction in the capacity of the sector in the mid to long term.
With the early years sector facing significant instability, boroughs are concerned about the potential closure of smaller providers, leaving communities without access to local provision when they need it.
The pandemic has the potential to widen entrenched disadvantage by reducing access to early years provision as well as take up. Any gaps in access to early years provision and reduction of take up, especially in areas with higher levels of deprivation, can be damaging to children’s life chances, holding back their attainment at school and beyond.
If fewer children access early years education, primary schools will have to provide more support to address any gaps in school readiness. Without the support of early years education to ensure school readiness for many future pupils, primary schools will have to bear the brunt of additional challenges for years to come, which is likely to have a considerable impact on the attainment gap in London.
In these extraordinary circumstances, we urge the Government to support the early years sector to continue to deliver vital early years education and childcare that is key to supporting children’s development and ensure that no child is left behind.
To ensure that all young Londoners, regardless of their background or where they live, can access high-quality early years provision and the support they need to thrive, London Councils proposes a 5 point plan in its report, The best start for young Londoners: Strengthening London’s early years education offer following the Covid-19 pandemic.