Exclusive: Caroline Dinenage to be minister with responsibility for early years education

Announcement follows concerns over delay raised by early years campaign group

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Caroline Dinenage will be the Department for Education minister responsible for early years and childcare, TES has learned.

The announcement is expected later today. The move follows concerns raised by the Pre-School Learning Alliance (PSLA) over confusion about ministerial responsibilities in the DfE.

The alliance had warned that the delay of more than three weeks in announcing a minister for the early years brief could risk the viability of the government's pledge to offer working parents 30 hours of free childcare for their three and four-year-olds by September 2017.

'Crucial time for the sector'

In an open letter to the DfE, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the PSLA, said: “We, of course, recognise that allocation of ministerial responsibilities is not a process that should be rushed. However, the fact that, nearly a month after the government reshuffle, the early years sector is still without a governmental representative is unacceptable.

“I don’t have to tell you what a crucial time this is for the sector. There is just over a year to go until the scheduled implementation of the 30-hour free entitlement offer, less than eight months to go until the promised implementation of a completely new funding system, and less than a month until the start of the pilots. It remains unclear, however, how government expects any progress on the rollout of this scheme to be made without a dedicated minister.”

It is more than three weeks since Theresa May, the prime minister, finalised her appointments to government.

Ms Dinenage established a small manufacturing business before becoming MP for Gosport, Stubbington, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head in 2010. She was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Nicky Morgan in April 2014 and became a minister for women and equalities and a junior minister at the Ministry of Justice in May 2015.

She became a junior minister at the Department for Education last month following the post-referendum reshuffle. 

A government spokesman said: “It’s not true to say any department work is put on pause awaiting an announcement [of portfolios].”

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