FREE childcare for middle class children should be cut and the cash spent on educating poorer kids, MPs today demand.
The Education Select Committee said ministers have a “confused” approach to early years education which is “entrenching” disadvantage.
Currently, working parents can claim 30 hours of free childcare for their three and four year-olds even if they earn a whopping £100,000.
But the Education Select Committee slammed the “car crash” policy and warned it is “entrenching” inequality.
In a damning report, they called for the freebie to be taken off rich families.
The cash should be ploughed into improving education for the poorest children who do the worst at school, they said.
In evidence, the committee heard the current policy is having the “perverse” effect of seeing disadvantaged kids having their hours reduced so that richer kids can be given a spot.
Tory MP Robert Halfon, head of the committee, said: “Supporting a child in the early years of their life is crucial to tackling social injustice and giving children the best possible chance to succeed.
HELP THE DISADVANTAGED
“It’s vital the Government reform the 30-hour childcare offer to focus it to help the most disadvantaged.”
Disadvantaged children are already four months behind their richer classmates by the time they reach their fifth birthday.
And they fall further behind as they get older – stretching to over 19 months by the time they leave school.
The report also warned ministers that England’s state nurseries are cash-strapped.
Nearly a third of nurseries who responded said they could close, and nearly two thirds of them expect to be in the red by 2020.
Ministers must immediately commit to “additional funding” for these nurseries, the report states.
It also slammed the government for scrapping a major study into staffing for early years nurseries.
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Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Whilst the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers at age 5 has reduced since 2013, we know that children from disadvantaged backgrounds or those with additional needs can face the greatest barriers in their early development.
“That is why we are focused on improving children’s early literacy and communication, and why the Education Secretary has committed to halving the proportion who leave reception year without these key skills.
“By 2020 we will be spending around £6 billion on childcare support – more than any other government – and we plan to spend around £3.5 billion this year on our free early education entitlements.”