Children’s early years are a crucial time in their development. Every activity they take part in is a chance for them to learn and grow.
That’s why it’s vital that every nursery in England has a member of staff who is specially trained to support children’s learning.
Our recent poll has revealed that more than 70% of parents want to see a qualified early years teacher in every nursery but a third don’t know whether their child’s nursery has one.
Children falling behind
Early years teachers are specially trained to help children develop their early language and numeracy skills through play, and to support those who are struggling.
If children don’t get this kind of support to learn in their early years, they’re at greater risk of falling behind before they even start school.
Last year, one in three children started year 1 without having reached a good level in their development.
If this trend continues, 800,000 children in England will be at risk of falling behind in their learning by age five between now and 2020. And 200,000 of them will still be behind by secondary school.
A shortage of teachers
All nurseries have staff who are trained to care for children. But funding pressures and recruitment costs mean that not all nurseries can afford a qualified early years teacher. As a result, applications are dropping.
Right now there’s a huge shortage of nursery teachers in England – 10,000 more are needed.
Children without an early years teacher are almost 10% less likely to reach the expected level of development when they start school compared to those who do have this specialist support.
Many children who fall behind in their early years struggle to ever catch up.
A quarter of those who start school without having reached the same level as their classmates will still be behind in English when they reach secondary school. A fifth will remain behind in maths.
Boys and children from poorer backgrounds are worst affected.
Boys are almost twice as likely as girls to be behind in language, and poorer children more than twice as likely to be behind as children from wealthier backgrounds.
This has potentially devastating consequences for the rest of their schooling, and even their careers.
Support to succeed
But with the right support, every child can start school equipped to succeed.
That’s why, with the backing of parents across England, we’re calling for an early years teacher in every nursery – starting with the most deprived areas.