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Lockdown research emphasises importance of early years settings for disadvantaged children

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Childcare, early years

a child drawing on the floor with chalk

A study by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), has shown that babies and toddlers from lower socio-economic backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to having less access to books and outdoor space during lockdown.

Featured in the Guardian, the research highlights that 90% of families reported enjoying increased activities with their young children during the spring lockdown. However, parents from disadvantaged backgrounds reported spending less time with their children, in particular activities requiring outdoor space and access to books.

This study raises some crucial issues regarding child development, and this is why we are working hard to ensure more children get back to nurseries and other early years settings as soon as possible.

On Monday, we announced that we are increasing the safety net available to families, protecting working parents and the dedicated early years sector. From Sunday 1 November, eligible working parents who receive support through the Government’s new Job Support Scheme (JSS) and extended Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will continue to receive their childcare entitlements, including the 30 hours offer and Tax-Free Childcare, even if their income levels fall below the threshold temporarily whilst on these schemes.

On top of this, we are supporting language development for reception age children who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. Lasting for 20 weeks, the Reception Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI)  involves scripted individual and small-group language sessions delivered by  trained teaching assistants (TAs), or early years educators, to children identified as being in need of targeted language support. The programme is focused on raising outcomes in speaking and language skills among young pupils whose education has been disrupted at a crucial time for their development.

Several trials from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) have found that NELI improves both children’s oral language and early literacy skills. A recent EEF trial of NELI found that children receiving the intervention made on average three months of additional progress compared to children in the comparison group.

Schools can still apply to take part here until 30 October.

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