Thursday, October 12, 2017

David Laws nearly resigned over 30 hours free childcare policy

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Speaking at the Schools Northeast Summit in Newcastle today, the former Liberal Democrat minister David Laws said free childcare for working parents operates as "negative early years' premium" benefiting the wealthy.

He also said it almost prompted him to resign from the Coalition.

According to the TES, he told the event:
"I think it’s utterly nuts to have.. an early years offer where the children of two investment bankers can get a 30-hour provision and the children from very disadvantaged backgrounds get 15."
David Laws also said:
"It’s ironic that all of the debate in Westminster and the big announcement at the Conservative Party conference recently was all about subsiding higher education more – we spend a truckload of money as a country on HE. 
"On the other hand we have an early years system which compared with other countries is underfunded, which pays its staff significantly less than other developed countries and as a consequence has a much lower qualified staff." 
Mr Laws added that previous early years reforms had mainly focused on "improving access to childcare, with a back to work agenda, rather than improving the quality of early years education".
The 30 hours free childcare was in the Conservatives' 2015 general election manifesto. The Lib Dems had resisted its introduction under the Coalition.

As David Laws explained today, it was designed to trump Labour's offer of 25 hours free care at that election.

Its implementation since the Conservatives' 2015 victory has been beset with problems.

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