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This week, the Select Education Committee has announced they are launching an inquiry into the state of childcare after praising Kate Middleton’s “extremely welcome” involvement in trying to improve the lives of young children. In the past, the Princess of Wales has warned that “not enough is being done” to help the next generation and has promised to use her role as a royal to do “everything she can” to protect Britain’s youngest children.
Robin Walker, the MP for Worcester and chair of the education committee, said Kate’s work to “raise the esteem and the recognition of the sector” is “crucially important”.
He added: “It is extremely welcome that [the Princess of Wales] has taken that interest.”
Mr Walker has claimed that the need for an inquiry has more urgency due to the “post-Covid environment” which has raised the “concern around the school readiness and the social challenges that children have had in terms of living in isolated homes”.
In an interview with the Telegraph, he said: “[The sector] has an intrinsic value – it does an enormous amount of good for society, and making sure that we can celebrate that and recognise it is important.”
The MP added: ”One of the valuable things that the Royal family are able to do in the UK is draw attention to cross-cutting issues like this in a non-political way, but also to recognise the incredible work that goes on across the sector”
Last month, Kate wrote to the Telegraph about the “unique importance” of the “first five years of life.”
The Princess of Wales said that “not enough is being done” to help the next generation, and added that Britain needed to examine issues such as homelessness and addiction.
She added that these problems in adults can stem back to difficult childhoods.
She wrote: “Early childhood, from pregnancy to the age of five, fundamentally impacts our whole lives, establishing the core foundations which allow us to go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.”
Mr Walker agreed that investing support in early childhood development could save Britain savings in the future.
He added: “Making sure that we have support for the right therapies that can help for instance children with speech and language difficulties… if you can find those right supports and bring them in early enough, you actually save a fortune for the education system in the long run.”
Kate has made it her “mission” for a number of years now to see how early childhood affected people into adulthood.
Last year, she launched the Royal Centre for Early Childhood, which seeks to “drive awareness and action” and also “change the way people think about early childhood”.
The foundation initially employs around six staff but Kate is determined to elevate the campaign and has said the “best investment” for Britain’s future health and happiness is to invest in the first five years of life.
One royal aide said: “The Duchess has made the observation that the more you learn about the science of early childhood, the more you realise that this is the social equivalent to climate change, but it is not discussed with the same seriousness or strategic intent that that issue is,
“So her mission for the last few years has been exploring what is the best way for her to build something, build relationships, her own knowledge, expertise so that she can help position this work with that sort of importance.”
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The education committee inquiry will look into the “coherence” of Britain’s childcare system, exploring the lack of affordable childcare and how it prevents mothers from returning to work if they wish to.
Mr Walker said: “With the right support and the right investment from Government, there is a hope for helping many more of those people to work effectively.”
The inquiry will also focus on how families are missing out on potentially billions of tax-free childcare and also the recruitment of nursery workers as well as other professions that focus on early childhood.
In her article for the Telegraph in November, the Princess of Wales said she was “determined” to continue her work to “shine a light” on the issue.
The Duchess promised she would continue to do “everything I can to secure much greater focus on those first crucial few years for the youngest members of our society – they are, after all, our future”.
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