Commenting on A Fair Start?, a new report by the Sutton Trust on the Government’s policy of 30 hours of funded childcare for three and four year olds, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

"It has long been accepted that access to good quality early education makes a huge difference in a child’s future attainment and helps improve social mobility. Providing good quality early education should be considered by Government and policymakers as vitally important and a funding priority, but for too long it has been starved. Early Years is not merely preparation for formal schooling, but an important stage of a child’s education and development. As this report shows, it is the quality of childcare that makes the difference in reducing the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers before they start school. 

“It should be of great concern to Government that many Early Years settings simply cannot afford to provide the 30 hours free childcare entitlement.  As demonstrated in today's report, this provision, where it is available, is restricted and the poorest families in society are not able to access the full free entitlement. This is very worrying indeed. 

"If the Government is serious about improving social mobility and closing the attainment gap, it must act immediately to provide adequate funding for the free entitlement, so that it is available in more early years settings and ensure that provision is universal so that children, regardless of their financial background, can access it.”