A cross-party panel of MPs has summoned education minister Elizabeth Truss back to their committee to give evidence over its report on early years education, branding her initial response as “inadequate”.
The Commons Education Select Committee has taken the unusual step of demanding Ms Truss return to give more evidence following its report into Sure Start children’s centres.
Back in December, the committee published a report into early years in which it labelled the government’s policies as being both “short term and disparate” and urged ministers to take the area of early years provision more seriously.
In her official response to the report, Ms Truss said that the government had “a clear core purpose for children's centres which focuses on improving outcomes for young children and their families, and reducing inequalities”.
She added that cash for early years intervention had increased from £2.2bn in 2011/12 to £2.5bn in 2014/15.
But in a statement issued today, the committee’s chair, Conservative MP Graham Stuart, said the government had failed to take the issue seriously.
“The committee is disappointed by the inadequate response provided by the government to our report on children's centres. This is a hugely important area, as it is widely accepted that the early years are the time during which good interventions can make the most effective difference to children's lives.
"We called on the government to take early years seriously and we feel that the response has failed to engage with that challenge,” Mr Stuart said.
Ms Truss will be expected to give evidence to “fill in the gaps” where recommendations had not been sufficiently addressed, he added.
In response to the committee’s decision to summon Ms Truss, the Department for Education (DfE) defended its performance when it came to early years.
“We want to see a strong network of children's centres in place across the country, offering families access to a wide range of local, flexible services so that they can choose what works best for their child,” a DfE spokesperson added.
“We have also increased free early education for three- and four-year-olds to 15 hours a week, encouraged schools to offer more childcare and made it easier for good and outstanding childminders to offer free early education.”