Following an announcement that England is to have a new Early Years Pupil Premium, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Labour Government to extend the Pupil Deprivation Grant to nursery pupils.
It has been announced today that a new Early Years Pupil Premium will be introduced in England to help ensure children get the best possible start in life. £50 million will be invested in 2015-16 giving early years providers more support to help those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. This will help providers employ more highly qualified staff, for example, or to increase access to services such as speech and language specialists.
In Wales a similar scheme, created by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and known as the Pupil Deprivation Grant is worth £918 for each child over the age of five eligible for free school meals.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:
"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been consistent in calling for more support for Wales' poorest children. It was a manifesto commitment and I am delighted that we have made it a reality. However, I believe we can go further.
"It is a fact that at age five the poorest pupils here in Wales are already falling behind those in England. While this announcement is extremely welcome in England, I am concerned it will mean Welsh children will fall further behind.
"To extend the Pupil Deprivation Grant to under-fives would cost around £10million and could make a real difference to the life chances of our most disadvantaged young people. Our schools survey showed many teachers raising concerns that the grant is not for under 5s and that they saw no reason for this.
"Far too little attention is paid to a child's first five years. This is exactly why the Welsh Liberal Democrats continue to call for high quality childcare, universal free school meals for all infants, and for our Pupil Deprivation Grant to be extended to nursery school pupils. Only the Welsh Liberal Democrats can build a stronger economy and a fairer society."