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Importance of early years in social mobility highlighted

07 August 2023

The Best Start Partnership has today published ‘Why Early Years Matter Most’, a briefing paper outlining the importance of early years in the social and cognitive development of children. The early years period refers to the period from before a child’s birth to their fifth birthday.

The briefing paper has been produced to a supplement the Social Mobility Report produced by the Jersey Community Relations Trust (JCRT) in 2022.

The paper combines research into the cognitive, emotional, and social development of children, alongside local knowledge. It highlights that:

  • Better early years education is associated with higher rates of secondary school completion, more employment, and a lowered chance of being involved in the judicial system.
  • Parents and carers provide children with the relationships, opportunities and experiences that shape their learning and development.
  • The impact of poverty places additional strain on families and makes it harder to maximise children’s ability to learn through play.

The briefing paper makes three recommendations: focusing the social mobility agenda on early years; prioritising the contribution of the family and home learning environment to children’s outcomes; and understanding the challenges faced by families living in poverty.

Dr Cathy Hamer, Independent Chair of the Best Start Partnership, said: “Children who experience a positive home learning environment are more likely to have positive social, educational, and emotional outcomes as adults.

“All parents and carers want their children to have the best start in life, but the evidence is clear that some families do face barriers. Any work on social mobility should, therefore, include a clear focus on the early years of a child’s life.”

Assistant Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Louise Doublet, said: “The experiences of children in their early years has a significant impact on their future educational outcomes and life opportunities.

“This is why it is so important that we have formal early years education that is high-quality and financially accessible to families. We must also ensure that parents, carers, and guardians have access to the right help and support, so they are empowered to support their children’s early learning experiences.

“That is why I am working closely with officers to review the early years system as a whole and ensure that families have access to a range of support services alongside high-quality childcare provision.” 

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