The Department for Education has confirmed that its long-awaited consultation on the future of children’s centres has been shelved indefinitely.
Whilst the consultation had originally been due to launch in Spring 2016, it has been marred with delays and, despite previous assurances it would eventually proceed, the DfE has now confirmed that there are currently no plans for it to proceed.
Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed the decision in a letter to the House of Commons Science and Technology committee outlining the alternative intention to focus on both its social mobility action plan and it’s early years social mobility peer review programme.
Zahawi said ‘We are partnering with the Local Government Association (LGA) to design and deliver the (Early Years Mobility Peer Review) programme, building on existing peer review models such as the Corporate Peer Challenge Programme. The programme will be piloted over the summer, with the full programme rolling out from autumn 2018. Funding for the programme will run until March 2020, with evidence and learning emerging by its conclusion.
Through the peer reviews and additional support the programme will spread best practice and help councils looking to close the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers. This will inform the next steps in our strategy to close the development gap, including considering any future consultation on the role of children’s centres'.