Around two-thirds (67 percent) of early years settings were open on the 10 September, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Education.
This figure, which represents an estimated 46,000 early years settings, is up from the 27 of August when an estimated 29,000 (42 percent) of settings were open.
The data, Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, estimates that on 10 September 482,000 children were attending early years settings. This is an increase of 178,000 from the previous figures reported on 27 August (304,000 children).
This increase could be attributed to more demand for childcare places after the school summer holiday period and a reopening of school-based settings.
Source: Department for Education
The report also states that the volume and percentage of children in attendance on 10 September is ‘not directly comparable’ with the previous data due to the ‘break in the time’ series. For example, the number of three-year-olds eligible for funded childcare, and therefore attending early years settings, increases through the academic year. Also, attendance in settings decreases in the autumn when children move to Reception.
Some children returned to early years settings on week starting 31 August, with others returning on the week of 7 September. However, due to the weekly nature of the collection, the response rate and the fact that some providers started the autumn term with inset days, the report said that ‘it is expected to take a few weeks’ before the early years attendance figures settle.
Around a fifth (21 percent) of birth- to four year-olds classified as ‘Children in Need’ or those who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) attended early years settings on 10 September.
This figure doubled from 9,000 on 27 August to 18,000 on 10 September.
The response rate to the early years local authority survey was 87 percent, with 131 out of 151 local authorities submitting data.