Childcare places on the rise in 30-hour pilot areas

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There has been an increase to the number of places in the 30-hour pilot areas the latest Ofsted figures show.

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Polly Anna's Day Nursery in York is taking part in the 30-hour pilot

Ofsted looked at all providers in the seven initial pilot areas inspected between last September - when the pilots started - and March this year.

This criteria was used because places numbers are updated at inspection enabling the inspectorate to analyse any changes in provision.

There was an increase in childcare places at providers that had been inspected in seven out of the eight pilot areas.

York - the only local authority pilot area that funded places for all eligible children across all types of childcare provision - recorded an increase of 14 per cent.

Inspected providers had an average increase of 6 per cent, in contrast with an average rise across England of 1 per cent during the same period.

Ofsted said the figures suggested that providers in the pilot areas may have increased their supply of places as a result of the 30 hours pilot.

The local authority-wide scheme in York had appeared in jeopardy, after providers initially pulled out because they did not view the rates offered as sustainable.

Providers were initially offered £3.38 for the first 15 hours and £3.95 for the second 15.

However after providers campaigned successfully for a higher flat rate of £4 an hour, interest rose. In March, York City Council said 86 per cent of providers had signed up to offer places.

At that time the council said 1,176 places had been taken up, equivalent to 79 per cent of approved applications.

Commenting, Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said, ‘Ofsted’s latest figures show a marked increase in the number of places in the sample of provision inspected in York where the largest pilot took place for 30 funded hours.

‘This has been a success because providers have approached the pilot in a positive way and been allowed to be flexible in the way they operate. ‘We know through our network of members in York that nearly all nurseries there have moved to a model where they charge for meals and additional services. This is the only way they can offer 30 funded hours and remain sustainable due to the inadequate hourly rate they are given.

‘With national roll-out weeks away, we are calling on the new government to commit extra funding or allow nurseries to make mandatory additional charges to parents to make up for shortfalls.'

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