This week the government faced fresh criticism over widening attainment gaps for disadvantaged students and calls for a clear plan to be put in place to reduce education disruption in the next academic year. The APPG for Childcare and Early Education has also written to government, urging them to address shortfalls in early years funding. At the Montessori Group, we welcomed Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, as the Chair of the new International Montessori Ambassadors group.


Duchess of York to become Chair of International Montessori Ambassadors

This week, we welcomed Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, as the Chair of the newly formed International Montessori Ambassadors group. Made up of senior figures in the social impact space and education, the new International Montessori Ambassadors will support the Montessori Group’s focus of honouring Maria Montessori’s humanitarian legacy and drawing on the Montessori values to build new partnerships and have a positive social impact internationally. Further information is available here.

The news of the Duchess’ appointment was covered in Hello magazine, Daily Express and Nursery World.


APPG calls for meaningful review of early years funding

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Childcare and Early Education, of which the Montessori Group is a sponsor, has called on government to address flaws in the funding of early years provision. In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the APPG has asked the government to use the upcoming Spending Review to provide almost £3,000 per child to the sector, to ensure they can meet the needs of children and support parents getting back to work to help drive a post-Covid economic recovery. Find out more in Nursery World.

We strongly support this call and believe the government must act now to protect the education and future of children at the youngest ages. In a letter to editor published in Bradford Telegraph and Argus, MCI’s Head of Education Preeti Patel discusses the importance of early years settings receiving financial support to enable the continuation of high quality provision.


Attainment gap reported for disadvantaged students

The Education Select Committee has accused the government of a lack of support for disadvantaged white students. A newly published report showed that white pupils on free school meals underachieve from the start of school, through to A-levels, compared with pupils on free meals from other ethnic groups.

As covered in Children and Young People Now, committee chairman Robert Halfon criticised the government for doing so little to address this gap in attainment, with almost a million young people affected across the country. To close the gap, the Committee is calling for a tailor-made approach to investment in early years support and family hubs.

However, the report has fuelled a so-called ‘culture war’ row in Westminster, with Conservative members of the Education Select Committee accused of inserting the controversial claims for political reasons. Labour members of the Committee refused to back the publication of the report, stating: “To make recommendations which pit different groups within our multi-ethnic working class against each other in a struggle for meagre resources is to do an injustice to our most disadvantaged children, including specifically white communities that have been ‘left behind’”. Read more in the Independent.


School absences on the rise

A quarter of a million children in England missed school last week because of Covid infections, self-isolation, or school closures. The Guardian reports that it was the most disrupted week since schools fully reopened in March, with the upsurge most marked in northern centres such as Oldham. School leaders are calling for children to be vaccinated, to reduce education disruption in the next academic year.

However, as discussed in Daily Telegraph, the government is yet to make a decision on whether children will be offered Covid jabs.