28 November 2017
Education Minister Deputy Rod Bryans today announced in the States Assembly that the proposal to means-test nursery classes and private nurseries will not go ahead.
The decision has been taken in response to an independent report by the Early Years Childhood Partnership (EYCP) which has stressed the importance of high-quality early years education for all and recommended that means-testing is not pursued.
Last October, States members approved the Medium Term Financial Plan, which included a measure to means-test the Nursery Education Fund. This pays for places in private nurseries in the pre-school year when children are aged three to four. It is up to £3,914 per child.
The Minister’s original proposal was amended so that the means-testing extended to places in States school nurseries. However, this had to be delayed until September 2018 because of the complexities of creating two means-testing mechanisms.
Deputy Bryans said "Following initial discussions with the chair of the EYCP, Dr Cathy Hamer, I have decided to rethink our early years issues. I also wanted to give parents some clarity so that they can plan ahead. We still have a lot of work to do to get the provision right in this area but, in the meantime, I want to remove some of the uncertainty for families.
"The main message from the report – and it is an extremely strong one – is that all the evidence shows early years education is vitally important. The EYCP wants us to recognise this as a government and to put more effort into supporting early years. Their report shows that children who have good quality early education start school three months ahead in their literacy and language skills. The benefits carry on throughout a child’s life. They are 20% more likely to get five good GCSEs and they earn more as adults. This is hugely significant for our community and for our economy."
The Education Minister will now discuss the financial implications with the Treasury and will bring a proposition to the States as soon as possible.