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Government urged to put early years at the heart of the pandemic recovery

The Sutton Trust has called on ministers to put early years at the heart of plans to see education recover from the Covid 19 crisis

According to new polling by YouGov just published by the Sutton Trust, a majority of parents of pre-school children (56%) are worried about the impact on their child’s overall development or wellbeing during the pandemic.

The survey also found one in five (20%) of the 570 parents of 2-4 year olds felt that their child’s physical development had been impacted negatively during the pandemic, and a quarter (25%) felt similarly about their language development. However, a much bigger concern for parents is the impact on their child’s social and emotional development, with just over half (52%) citing this as being negatively impacted.

When it comes to the reasons behind these worries, over two-thirds (69%) of parents feel that not being able to play with other children has negatively impacted their child. A smaller proportion (63%) report that being unable to see other close relatives has affected their child.

Over half (51%) of parents feel that the government has not done enough to support the development of all pre-school age children during the pandemic.

Consequently, the Trust has called on the government to put the development and wellbeing of pre-school children at the heart of the education recovery plan.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“No one doubts that the impact of the pandemic on children’s and young people’s life chances is going to have repercussions for many years – even decades – to come. Our own research has highlighted the disproportionate impact of school closures on poorer students, who have struggled most with home schooling.

“The recovery plan must be ambitious and long-term. Crucially, funding and efforts need to be focused on the most disadvantaged.

“But as today’s polling shows, we cannot forget the youngest children. It is more important than ever that there is greater access to high quality early education for younger children from poorer homes whose development is at risk of suffering the most.”