New Education Secretary recognises importance of early years

The new Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi made his first speech at the Conservative party conference yesterday.  Nadhim Zahawi MP

Mr Zahawi talked about the importance of early education and language acquisition for children’s educational outcomes.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “It is refreshing to hear the Secretary of State for Education recognising the crucial role that early years plays in children’s long term learning. The evidence overwhelmingly points to the lasting benefits for children, families and society as a whole from investing more in their early education and development.

“We look forward to seeing the Education Secretary’s words and ambitions put into action within the Government’s spending announcements later this month. ‘Building back better’ means investing in our children who have missed out on so much. This must ensure providers are properly funded to deliver the high quality early education and care that we know makes such a difference.

“We welcome the Minister’s recognition of the great work that dedicated, skilled early years professionals do with our children. With the sector facing a workforce crisis, now is not the time to be asking nurseries and staff to do more with less. Investment in training and staff development is important but we also need to see concrete plans to re-engage the workforce strategy and ensure we’re able to recruit the best staff into the sector and retain them.”

Read a full transcript of his speech reported here – Nadhim Zahawi: Full text of Conservative Conference 2021 speech

Earlier this week the Chancellor Rishi Sunak gave his first in-person conference speech where he discussed his Plan for Jobs going forwards.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, said: “The Chancellor’s speech outlined the next steps in his Plan for Jobs. As NDNA has said previously, any plan for jobs must include a Plan for Childcare which is an essential part of economic infrastructure along with transport links and supply chains.

“A high quality education is key to future-proofing our economy and that must include shoring up the foundations of learning in children’s early years. The Chancellor said ‘we want to give children the best’ which must surely include the best start in life and a chance to fulfil their potential?

“He repeated his catchphrase ‘whatever it takes’ so we would say that must include investing sufficiently in early years education.

“It’s critical that this Government includes an increase to hourly funding rates in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”

You can watch his speech here.


  • England
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak
  • childcare
  • early education
  • early years
  • England
  • Government plans
  • Nadhim Zahawi
  • NDNA
  • workforce crisis

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