No pre-school, no child benefit, Tory thinktank says in report on poverty

The Guardian is reporting that what it describes as “an increasingly influential Conservative pressure group” is suggesting parents should be denied child benefit if they do not send their children to pre-school education from the age of three.

The penalty should apply to a parent in the case of a child aged two if the toddler comes from a disadvantaged background, the new counter-poverty strategy suggests. 

The proposed loss of child benefit is set out in a pamphlet by Bright Blue, a liberal Conservative pressure group and thinktank, and is designed to ensure disadvantaged children go to Sure Start centres to make them ready for school. 

Bright Blue says it is essential to seek new ways to persuade parents to send their children to Sure Start centres. 

It argues that just as the government is planning to withdraw child benefit from parents of truanting children, so the same disincentives should apply to parents that do not take up the opportunity of free pre-school education. Ministers have said they are doubling the amount of free pre-school childcare or education to 30 hours a week…

Bright Blue’s director, Ryan Shorthouse, insists the measure should not be seen as punitive or designed to be critical of stay-at-home parents, but should instead be regarded as a pro-education measure…

The pressure group argues that the evidence for the benefit of pre-school care is so strong that formal education should not be compulsory from the age of five but much earlier. 

The report says: “We need 100% take-up of the early years free entitlement to ensure children – and also parents – benefit, not only from good-quality care but also the diverse networks they are likely to cultivate by attending these institutions.”

…Ofsted inspections of Sure Start children’s centres, nurseries and primary schools should take into account whether the social composition of their governing bodies or advisory boards reflects that of local communities. 

No Sure Start centre should be given outstanding status if it does not have a diverse governing body, it says…

More at: No pre-school, no child benefit, Tory thinktank says in report on poverty


The argument here appears to be that pre-school education is so important to help close the gap that disadvantaged parents need to be compelled to make sure their children participate. 

Do you accept the logic of this and would you support the policy being proposed?

Please tell us why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…


Should benefits be stopped if children don’t attend pre-school?


Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link

Today's poll: Should governors be financially compensated for their time?
Take £500m from universities to boost FE, report suggests
Categories: Parenting, Policy and Pre-school.


  1. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove more compulsion will lead to the #GreatEducationHoax being rumbled more quickly #SchleswigHolsteinQuestion #NEETs

  2. Bedtonman

    cherrylkd SchoolsImprove what! It is a parents choice whether to send them to pre school, threatening parents to do something is bullying

  3. natedtrust_marc

    Nor_edu SchoolsImprove this is one of those ideas that sounds ok at first, but when you give it thought it’s actually rather offensive.

  4. BartShaw1

    SchoolsImprove encouraging + allowing parents to attend preschool activities *with* their child good. fines absolutely the wrong mechanism

  5. Nor_edu

    natedtrust_marc SchoolsImprove exactly. It puts the importance of academic achievement 10 years down the line above ALL else. Gah.

  6. natedtrust_marc

    Nor_edu rather than make children want to escape their background, should be trying to make their background better. Not sure threats help!

  7. Nor_edu

    natedtrust_marc exactly. We should be investing in the family, and therefore the community around the child at that age

  8. davidhunter

    cherrylkd SchoolsImprove I value the home edu of my wife, my children’s mother above any school in the world! NickyMorgan01 #ukedchat

  9. RDut24

    EarlyyearsRosa ‘Formal education’ is not even compulsory, ensuring a child receives an ‘appropriate’ education is. What about home edders?

  10. RDut24

    EarlyyearsRosa They have closed most of the sure start centres. The one I worked in for 8 years is now only open one morning a week. #irony

  11. In Jan 2013 Bright Blue advocated allowing schools to be run for profit and holding children back a year if they didn’t make the grade (against all evidence that this is unhelpful).
    Now it advocates withdrawing child benefit from parents of children who don’t attend pre-school.  But this is punishing the child because of decisions made by parents and will do nothing to help disadvantaged children out of poverty.

  12. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove Not sure they have really thought this through. Sure Start don’t offer hours that suit working parents

Let us know what you think...