In the session MPs heard how the introduction of 30 hours had decreased flexibility for parents, with providers restricting their hours to particular times of the day. They were told that there was evidence of increased ratios and lower levels of qualifications amongst staff. MPs wondered whether the 30 hours initiative was about getting parents back to work (thereby a Dept. Work and Pensions scheme) or was it about providing care and education for children (thereby a DfE scheme)? It was commented by Cllr Gillian Ford that one concern of Local Authorities was that their funding did not allow them to support quality improvement in settings and so quality would decline over time. Similarly, despite research (e.g. EPPSE) finding that it was the work of high-quality early years staff that led to the best outcomes for children the funding rates settings received for the 30 hours provision meant that they could not afford to pay for highly qualified staff. The point was made that it needed not to be just childcare and education that was provided but high quality childcare and education.
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