Investing more money in early childhood will improve life chances

14th November 2008 at 00:00
For a better children's workforce, study Sweden's methods. Emma Seith reports

Higher taxation, leading to more investment in early childhood, is the best way to improve children's life chances, says an early years expert with more than 30 years' experience.

Peter Moss, professor of early childhood education at the Institute of Education in London, made the comments while delivering his views on inter-professional working at the Children in Scotland conference in St Andrews.

Child abuse cases such as that of Victoria Climbie have highlighted the need for professionals to work together more closely. Yet in England, Professor Moss has found the children's workforce to be increasingly fragmented and hierarchical.

In a review of the systems in England and Sweden, he found there were 17 occupations in England, including a growing number of assistants and early years professionals to be introduced shortly. This compared unfavourably with Sweden, where the workforce had a more coherent and flatter structure, with fewer differences in pay, he said. Many professionals working with children were "pedagogues", who included teachers, pre-school workers and free-time professionals who ran activities out of school hours.

In England, professionals worked in silos, but the Swedish workforce had "a common outlook and shared a language", he said. This was thanks to their broader professional identity as pedagogues.

Size also mattered, Professor Moss said. A third of Swedish schools serve children from the age of six to 16, but in the authority he studied most schools had just 200 pupils.

When asked how resourcing compared, he said: "The Swedes invest more money, particularly in early childhood. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found they invest 2 per cent of their gross domestic product; in England, it was less than 1 per cent. I have to say, the key to good outcomes seems to be high taxation."


Children in Scotland and the Scottish Government have launched a children's sector workforce debate.

Over the next 12 months, the charity is inviting the workforce, along with employers, planners, universities, colleges and other stakeholders, to voice their opinions about the changes needed to achieve a unified system of children's services.

The debate will culminate in a major conference in Glasgow on March 4.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today