The new data, which shows an increase in awareness of the importance of early childhood over the past year, also highlights the fact that men are still significantly less aware than women of the extraordinary impact of the first five years of a child’s life.
To help address this, The Princess of Wales took her Shaping Us campaign to Maidenhead Rugby Club today, where she met with local and national male players to discuss the issue.
The Princess of Wales, who is Patron of the Rugby Football Union, was joined by former England rugby professional and Shaping Us champion, Ugo Monye, who led the discussion with fellow professional rugby stars Courtney Lawes and Danny Care, alongside representatives from Maidenhead Rugby Club and Si Trower, founder of the mental health charity Brave Mind.
During the visit, the group spoke about the Shaping Us campaign, their own early childhood experiences, fatherhood, and the impact that settings such as local sports clubs can have in creating a network of support around those who are helping to raise children.
The new Public Perceptions Survey, conducted by Ipsos UK on behalf of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, tracks key data on awareness levels on issues related to early childhood.
Last year, only 17% of the UK population identified the period between pregnancy and the age of five as the most important period for shaping a child’s future. This year’s survey found that this figure has risen to 19% (up 2 percentage points). However, whilst 24% of women identified pregnancy to five years old as the most important period (up 4% from last year), only 14% of men did so.
Christian Guy, Director of the Centre for Early Childhood, said: “It is encouraging to see awareness levels of the critical importance of the first five years of our lives moving in the right direction – though there remains much more work to be done.
“It is during our early childhood that our brains develop faster than at any other life stage and our experiences, relationships and surroundings at that very young age lay the foundations that shape the rest of our lives.
“This has got to become an issue that they whole of society embraces – that is talked about in board rooms and sports clubs across the country and not just assumed to be the domain of parent and baby groups or nursery settings. Everyone has a part to play in raising the next generation which is why conversations, such as those that took place at Maidenhead Rugby Club today, are so important.”
The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood Shaping Us campaign is a long term awareness raising effort aiming to transform the issue of early childhood from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time.
Following a successful launch at the beginning of this year, work continues with partners in the early years sector, the Shaping Us champions, the Business Taskforce for Early Childhood and many others, to continue to push awareness levels and consequently action up over the coming year and beyond.