In July, Tynwald supported an increase for pre-school funding to £1700, £2150 for those in receipt of benefits, to provide 10 and 12.5 hours per week respectively.
Extracts from my speech in Tynwald on 19 July:
……It is good to see progress on this issue and a positive outcome from following the social affairs committee’s findings, which recommended a minimum of 12.5 hours per week per child and the department’s positive response following a question I raised in ….the House of Keys. (Does the Minister of Education acknowledge the beneficial effects of pre-school education for all? – 28/06/16)
There is significant evidence which has been collated over recent years to reveal how pre-school has a positive and long-term impact on children’s attainment.
In fact the measure is timely with the economist at the end of last month demonstrating the important financial and social benefits of pre-school and how it would give children a running start.
Studies in Europe and the USA show how those attending pre-school were as adults less likely to be unemployed, smokers, depressed or arrested!
Children starting school after having attended pre-school, even if only part time, had better language acquisition, pre-reading and early number concepts.
They also demonstrated better levels of concentration, co-operation and peer sociability. In addition they were less worried about starting school and showed less anti-social behaviour.
The pre-school education must be of a high quality and I support the department’s measures to set and monitor educational standards
However, we need to provide suitable premises for the setting up of pre-schools as the distribution across the island is patchy and in my own constituency, the increase in demand has led to a reduction in suitable space for pre-school. This is an area that needs to be tackled.
As a result of the evidence of the very positive impact of high quality pre-school education I recommend we proceed with the necessary funding and I will support the motion.