I kicked off this year’s podcast chatting to the well-informed Krupesh Hirani, London Assembly Member for Brent and Chair of the London Assembly Health Committee and the Health Inequalities Committee.
I first met Krupesh when I was invited to give evidence at the Scrutiny Committee in May last year and I liked his approach. He was clear and open in his questioning and interested in Early Years. His follow up letter to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan about the severe impact of the pandemic on Early Years providers (especially childminders), confirmed his commitment.
In the podcast we talk about the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on children’s development especially those children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We agree that these children are often worse affected because they stand to gain the most from interacting with early years services and the risks to their future health and wellbeing are profound.
As to be expected, we reflected on how the London Mayor can help us address the post pandemic staff shortages and I suspect Brexit isn’t helping. We are severely short of Level 3 qualified staff and retention is worsened because our less qualified and experienced staff are trying to manage a tight staffing situation balanced with the increased learning needs of so many children. I wanted to know how Krupesh can corral all the Mayor’s power of coordination and partnership to build a London-wide campaign to encourage more people, and particularly men, to work in Early Years.
Krupesh was able to share his thoughts on other London initiatives such as the Strong Early Years London programme and how this can help stem the exodus of Early Years services especially childminders from the London sector.
I sit on the Mayor’s Taskforce for Childhood Obesity and am very keen to get the Healthy Early Years London programme evaluated and refreshed so we can get all the nurseries back on track and even include us in the Healthy Schools Streets.
I look forward to hearing how some of London’s 5000 nurseries respond to Krupesh’s thoughts, getting the London Mayor to use his powers and give a big shout out for joining London’s Early Years.