However, the data for childcare provider numbers and inspection outcomes, also shows that the number of childminders registered with Ofsted continues to fall.
There are now 10,000 fewer childminders than there were in 2012.
According to the statistics, the number of childminders has fallen by 879 and the number of providers on non-domestic premises has fallen by 209 during the period between 31 August and 31 December 2015.
Ofsted said that the decrease in non-domestic providers was due to the fact that schools are no longer required to register their provision for two-year-olds.
‘The trend over the past three years had been a decline in places offered by childminders, while places offered by non-domestic providers had remained more stable. However, since March 2015 there has been an increase in childminder places,’ the report said.
Figures for inspections as of 31 December 2015, show that the proportion of settings achieving good or outstanding grades remains unchanged since previous data was published for inspections up until 31 August 2015.
Gill Jones, Ofsted early education deputy director, said, ‘These are good times for the early years sector. The proportion of good and outstanding nurseries and other types of early years setting remains at 85 per cent – that’s the largest share ever.
‘So there are more than 48,000 good and outstanding providers on the early years register. These statistics make clear that no region is being left behind.
‘That matters because there is strong evidence that it is high quality early education which makes a difference to young children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds. It helps them be ready to learn when they start primary school.
‘I have had positive feedback on the common inspection framework since it was introduced in September 2015, so I am pleased to see that there has not been a change in grade profiles. Regardless of changes to the delivery of inspection next year, inspectors will continue to focus on outcomes and the progress of young children from their different starting points.’
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, welcomed the news that the proportion of early years providers ranked 'good' and 'outstanding' remains at an all-time high.
But he urged the Government to address the issue of falling childminder numbers urgently.
‘Despite the continued dual pressures of insufficient funding and ever-changing legislation, practitioners continue to deliver high-quality early learning opportunities to the children in their care, and the sector should be commended for this continued positive trend,’ he said.
‘However, we remain extremely concerned about the ongoing decline in childminder numbers. To lose 10,000 childminders from the sector in four years demonstrates a complete failure of policy - and it's clear that continuing to champion childminder agencies, when the sector has shown no interest in the initiative, is a waste of time.
‘With the roll-out of the 30-hour free entitlement offer imminent, the flexible care and education that childminders deliver is more important than ever. The Government must now engage properly with the childminding sector and look at what can be done to ensure that this vital source of quality provision is not wasted.’
PACEY also said that childminder agencies were not the answer to the recruitment crisis.
Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY, said, ‘The latest figures reinforce that the number of registered childminders continues to decline. But we have also seen a substantial increase of places available to parents within childminder settings. The nature of childminding is changing, with settings increasing capacity by taking on childminding assistants.
‘It has been encouraging to see the growth of good and outstanding settings over the last few years. But, this is under threat with the erosion of local authority support and we are calling for the Government through the promised workforce development strategy to ensure that childminders have more support for training and development.
‘We need urgent action to attract childminders into the sector and to encourage those already working in the profession to stay. We know that childminder agencies in their current form are not the solution. Childminders provide a unique, flexible home-based service to children and their families and they will be crucial to delivery of the Government’s 30 hour offer.’