Mayor unveils plans for London’s first Early Years Hubs

29 September 2017

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today unveiled new plans to help tackle inequality in education and help ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their full potential.


Sadiq pledged to help improve access to good quality, affordable early-years education for the most disadvantaged families, through the creation of new Early Years Hubs. Bringing together schools, childminders and nurseries, the Hubs will help ensure more children are ready to thrive at school from the age of five by boosting the take-up of early-years education and childcare support entitlements, and enable more parents to seek work.


These organisations will work together over a three-year period to set up a minimum of three Hubs, supporting quality early-years practice and engaging with families to improve access for the most disadvantaged. They may also provide childcare out of normal working hours and support children with special educational needs and disabilities, as well as promoting careers in early-years education. City Hall is set to begin an open application process next month to select the lead organisation for each of the Hubs, and will develop a toolkit to share learning across the capital.


Schools are facing ongoing budget challenges, with London Councils analysis of the Government’s proposed changes to the National Funding Formula suggesting that the capital’s schools will receive a significantly lower proportion of the new funding than any other region in the country. 63 per cent of schools in London will receive the minimum 0.5 per cent per pupil funding increase in 2018-19, compared with just 35 per cent of schools across the rest of England. In addition, the National Audit Office forecasts costs pressures of 1.6 per cent, leading to a shortfall of £23 million in London that year.[i]


The Mayor believes the most cost-effective way to make the biggest difference is prioritise early years education and reduce the gaps between children in the youngest age groups.


Sadiq made the announcement at the Schools for Success Awards at City Hall, an event recognising schools across the capital which have excelled at supporting pupils who started off behind their peers. As well as extra support in the early years, the Mayor is also investing in support for Londoners further on in their education. In 2016 there were more than 39,000 pupils at the end of primary school[ii] and 30,000 at the end of secondary school who did not reach expected levels[iii]. Today’s awards celebrated primary and secondary schools across 27 boroughs which have achieved exceptional results for children who were previously behind in their studies.   A new network has been created for these schools to share best practice with others across London through.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London has some of the best schools in the world, and we know that the earlier a child starts to learn, the better they tend to do later in life. There is already great work going on but we need to give all young Londoners the chance to succeed, no matter what their background, and raise the quality of our education system even higher to compete with other global cities. By increasing access to good quality, affordable early-years education and supporting pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, we can help ensure no child is left behind. But proposed funding cuts, coupled with existing budget pressures, mean we will lose teachers, risk falling standards, and pupils will suffer. I will continue to fight for a fairly funded school system that will work for young Londoners for generations to come – no matter what their background.”


London has made great progress over the last 15 years, becoming an international beacon for education with a proven track record in supporting disadvantaged pupils such as those with special educational needs, disabilities and from certain backgrounds and ethnic minorities. However, some of these children are still not achieving as highly as their peers and uptake of free early education is below average. London parents are less likely to have support available from grandparents and pay more for childcare, with costs in Inner London 34 per cent higher than the average in England[iv]. In 2017, only 58 per cent of disadvantaged two year olds in the capital accessed their free part-time childcare place, compared to 71 per cent nationally[v]. By the age of five, children eligible for free school meals are almost three months behind their peers.[vi] As head teachers battle with continuing cuts and increasing costs, it is the programmes which help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children that will suffer the most.


Joanne McCartney, Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, said: “A child’s first years affect the rest of their life, and it’s vital that good quality, affordable childcare and early-years education are available to all. Childcare can become a costly barrier to employment for some parents, and by bringing organisations together to provide this support, we can help ensure parents are aware of what’s available and increase take-up of the free early-years offer across London. Today’s awards show the huge impact good quality teaching can have on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and highlight how important it is for the Government properly fund our education system so every child across London can achieve their full potential.”


Evidence from Ofsted highlights the impact that quality of teaching has, particularly on disadvantaged pupils. But in addition to continuous funding pressures, schools are struggling to recruit enough head teachers. GLA research in 2015 found that three out of five head teachers planned to quit in the next three years, many to retire. More than half said retaining newly qualified teachers has become harder in London, with high housing and living costs driving experienced teachers out of the capital and deterring applications from outside the city. The Mayor is working hard to address this through his Getting Ahead London programme, now in its second year, which provides bespoke training and support to talented deputy head teachers to help them take the next step. Now in its second year, a third of the 60 participants were promoted by the end of the first year, with 15 becoming head teachers. He is also supporting the London school system on recruitment and retention and creating more affordable homes through his London Housing Strategy, as well as bringing in the London Living Rent.


Martine Clark, Executive Headteacher of Byron Court School and the Brent Teaching School Alliance in Wembley, said: “Faced with a complex multitude of challenges in London, it is vital that as school leaders, we ensure every child has a great school experience.  We need to inspire all our pupils with a love of learning early on in their lives in order for them to reach their full potential, and Early Years Hubs will help improve access to the quality childcare and education that really makes a difference. Through the Schools for Success programme, we can effectively share best practice and work collaboratively and creatively to address issues and ensure each child is getting the support they need.”




[vi] Mayor of London’s Annual Education Report 2017, source National Pupil Database -

Notes to editors

Notes to Editors



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