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Last year the Government published Families in the Foundation Years, a short statement (by Government standards at least!) setting out a big vision for services we think should be offered to all parents and families from pregnancy until a child reaches the age of five. It could not have been developed without the sector’s involvement. Thank you. I truly believe the policies contained within it will make a real and positive difference to every child in the foundation years.

As we move forward into a new year my priority will be making sure that that vision is translated into reality. In the Spring we will be publishing a stronger and simpler Early Years Foundation stage framework for implementation from September – it will be grounded in the Tickell Review recommendations and informed by thoughtful and helpful consultation contributions that many of you took the time to provide. I am also looking forward to receiving Professor Nutbrown’s review of qualifications and career pathways in the foundation years in summer and the early findings from the areas trialling payment by results for Sure Start Children’s Centres in June.

And of course, we will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure there are enough high quality early education places for those two year olds who are eligible come 2013.

We will also continue the roll-out of new services to support parents, when and if they need it. Building on the wide ranging online and telephone family support services I announced In October, parenting classes will be trialled in three areas starting in Spring 2012 and a new digital advice service will also begin in giving parents timely and age-appropriate information.

So, much to be proud of and much to do going forward. I look forward to continuing to work with the sector throughout this coming year.

Sarah Teather MP,
Minister of State for Children and Families