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Education and care for early years

30 September 2021

A report has been published outlining proposals that aim to give all children the best possible start in life.

The Early Years Policy Development Board’s report seeks to provide all children from conception to five with affordable and high-quality education and care provision. The report, which has been reviewed by the Council of Ministers today, advises the Government of Jersey on future policy priorities for the early years area.

Proposals include setting up ‘Best Start’ programmes for children and families as well as recommendations to establish progress reviews for young children with their parents, alongside health and early education services. There are also proposals to introduce funds so that Islanders can study degrees to work within the early years sector. 

Some recommendations have already been implemented. The Government this month extended the 30 hours’ free education entitlement for three and four year olds, which included an increase in hourly rate of the Nursery Education Fund. Additionally, work on Family Friendly Policies has seen progress in giving parents more choice about how they can work and raise their children, particularly in the first year.

Further work will be undertaken as part of the Government’s wider Education Reform Programme.

The proposals form part of a series of policy development boards launched in 2018 by the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré. The Early Years Policy Development Board convened in 2019 and met until early 2020. The publication of the final report has been delayed because of the Government’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Le Fondré said: “The experience of children and families during the pandemic has served as a timely reminder of how significant positive early years experiences are to children’s outcomes. I am, therefore, delighted to publish the final report of the Early Years Policy Development Board. The policy proposals reflect our ambition to provide all children with accessible, affordable, high-quality and enjoyable education and care provision within our community. The advice from the Board provides a good foundation for this important topic and will help to inform further policy development work.”

The Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Scott Wickenden, said: “The early years of a child’s life are the optimum time to address inequalities to enhance and improve their life chances, for school and beyond. It is vital to tackle development gaps at the earliest opportunity, particularly the key early language and literacy skills, so that all children can begin school ready to thrive and succeed. At the heart of these proposals is the importance of children’s development and wellbeing while facilitating an acceptable work-life balance for families, recognising the valuable role of childrearing and meeting their parents’ childcare needs.” 

The Early Years Policy Development Board met from 2019 through to January 2020. Its members were former Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois, former Assistant Education Minister Deputy Jeremy Maçon, former Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mezéc and Deputy Louise Doublet.

Further information on the Early Years Policy Development Board is published online. 

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