Track pre-school children’s achievement into primary schools, say MPs

DfE lacks data to measure impact of its £2.7bn spend on free childcare, says report

Children should be tracked from pre-school childcare onwards to check their development, a report from MPs said today.

The failure to introduce baseline assessments raises fears that there is no national dataset to assess how well children are developing in their early years, the Commons Public Accounts Committee has said.

Three baseline assessments were approved as a way of measuring progress through primary schools from September 2016, but they were dropped when it was found they were not comparable.

And the current measure, the early years foundation stage profile, which is taken at the end of reception year, is due to be made non-statutory from September.

In its report Entitlement to free early years education and childcare, the committee says:

“The Department told us it was possible to match data it holds from the different census returns it receives from childcare providers and schools, to track children’s achievement, but these would not provide immediate feedback of issues in specific settings”.

It recommends that the DfE should report back to the committee by September 2016 on how it will measure the value for money of providing free early education and childcare. It should consider tracking children from pre-school childcare onwards, it adds.

The committee has said that in 2015-2016, the DfE gave £2.7 billion to local authorities for childcare and 1.5 million children took up a free childcare place.

The report also raises concerns over whether there will be enough childcare providers willing to offer the additional 15 hours of free childcare being introduced by the government in 2017.

It points out that the Department for Education (DfE) does not have robust plans to ensure there are sufficient qualified early years staff.

A new early years initial teacher training programme, introduced in September 2013, recruited 97 per cent of its target in its first year but this dropped to 41 per cent of its target in its second year.

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