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#YourVoice James Berry MP: Vital debate on Early Years education

James Giles

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The debate will take place in Westminster Hall at 9.30am on Tuesday 12 July – it is 
open to the public and will be live streamed on www.parliamentlive.tv/Commons  
 
James Berry writes: 
 
We sometimes think of education as starting only at primary school or once children have 
reached their fourth or fifth birthdays, but this is far from the case. Even the very youngest 
children are learning all the time and a growing body of research shows that this early 
learning is vitally important. 
Early education and childcare have been longstanding priorities of mine because of the 
important role they play in children’s life chances. 
Unless children start school with the building blocks of learning, particularly early language 
development, they may struggle to pay attention in the classroom, follow lessons, interact 
with their classmates and develop key skills like reading and maths. The research shows that 
children who start behind, stay behind. 
Roughly nine in every ten three and four year olds currently attend some sort of childcare 
each week and I am proud that the government has passed legislation to double the amount of 
free child care working parents can claim from 15 to 30 hours each week. Indeed this was a 
policy launched right in the heart of my constituency at the Advantage Children’s Day Care 
Nursery in Tolworth. 
But whilst an additional 15 hours free childcare will be an enormous help to parents in 
Kingston and across the country, we must use this opportunity to look at what actually goes 
into this childcare. We need to make sure that early years education really does get our 
children ready to have the best possible start at school and prevents any child from falling 
behind. 
Compared to the national average, children in the Kingston borough perform well in speech 
and language development at age five, thanks in part to the excellent teaching and SLT 
services here. However, the poorest children are almost twice as likely to fall behind and are 
already around a year behind their better-off peers by the time they reach this age. 
The implications for a child who fails to master basic language skills are clear. It is little 
surprise that those children who start behind tend to stay behind, leading to limited chances 
of success throughout their lives at school and fewer opportunities beyond. 
I want to ensure that all children in Kingston have the chance to fulfil their full potential, 
whatever their parents’ circumstances. That is why I have called a debate in Westminster 
Hall, together with a cross-party group of MPs, to look at what we can do to make these 
objectives a reality.  

James Giles is the Editor of the Kingston Enquirer, covering local news and events in Kingston, New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington.

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Kingston Town

Two men charged with Norbiton murder

James Giles

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Detectives investigating the murder of 22-year-old Malik Chutton in Kingston on 5 August have charged two men.

Finley Ahwan, 19, of Worcester Park, and Kyle Hill, 19, were arrested in August and subsequently bailed. They were charged with murder on Thursday, 1 November.

Both will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court today, Friday, 2 November.

A 20-year-old woman who was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender has been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early November.

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