Labour: We’ll redress childcare imbalance

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson visited the Thomas Coram nursery

Sunday, 17th July — By Harry Taylor

Boyland, Holness, Phillipson

Marcus Boyland, Perina Holness and Bridget Phillipson

LABOUR will mimic Camden’s policy on childcare if it gets into power, the party announced in a visit to the borough last week.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson visited the Thomas Coram nursery, part of Coram Fields in Bloomsbury, to tout its policies on childcare.

Currently, parents in work get 30 hours of free childcare for three-year-olds and four-year-olds before they begin school, but those out of work only get 15 – despite not having the same income.

Headteacher at Thomas Coram nursery Perina Holness said: “The logic that parents who work get free 30 hours and parents who don’t get only 15 is so misguided. It means the majority of those people really need their children to come to nursery can’t.”

She added: “We know that research shows that if you are educated by teachers you will go on to achieve at a higher level.

“But for some unknown reason, that research didn’t show the difference between 15 hours and 30 hours.

“Camden have looked and said ‘this is illogical, how can our most needy families be entitled to 50 per cent less education than those children who are comparatively advantaged?’”

Parent Steph Griffin-Wright, 27, whose four-year-old boy William has been going there since he was two, said: “When he moved up to Kinder [the oldest age bracket at Thomas Coram], I had the opportunity to do an apprenticeship and he has been doing great here now. I haven’t had to pay childcare, I’ve been able to work and study.

“The opportunities he gets coming here and the time he gets, I wouldn’t be able to give that to him, even if I wasn’t working.”

Camden’s education chief Councillor Marcus Boyland said that as a governor at Fleet School in Belsize Park he and others would contact parents who are eligible for free childcare after receiving lists from the Department for Education.

Ms Phillipson said: “We’ve got a situation at the moment where parents aren’t able to take up the opportunities in terms of learning and work and in many cases being forced to give up work because of childcare, and that sadly usually falls to women, because they can’t get the childcare they need, or it’s too expensive or it’s unavailable.”

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