Poorer children are now less likely to access Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) funding this year than ever before, after the Department for Education set aside £29.6m for 2019/20, 40% less than the 2015/16 spend of £49.4m.
EYPP provides additional funding of 53p per hour per eligible child to settings on measures to boost educational opportunities at nursery, and its impact of its spend has to be evidenced to Ofsted. ‘Given that EYPP is designed to narrow the attainment gap between young children from low-income families and their peers, this substantial fall is of significant concern', says the annual report from data company Ceeda, which revealed the data.
Jo Verrill, Ceeda Managing Director, said the 40% drop was not matched by a significant drop in the number of children accessing the fund. The number of children receiving EYPP fell from 106,785 in 2016 to 99,179 in 2019.
Dr Verrill said, 'The puzzle is that the number of children recorded as accessing the premium has fallen by a much smaller proportion: 7% based on DfE census data. Whilst providers flag many barriers in terms of assessing eligibility, justifying the use of resources at inspection, and onerous administration for relatively small increases in funding, much of this mystery is left unexplained.'
June O'Sullivan, CEO London Early Years Foundation, said this is ‘shocking in an under-funded sector struggling to provide early education to families who can afford few or no private hours’.
Settings commonly claim EYPP on behalf of parents on qualifying benefits. Ms O’Sullivan said ‘Getting parents’ date of birth as well as their national insurance numbers can be problematic and would be easier if parents could use the same Childcare Choices portal that is used for Tax Free Childcare and 30 Hours. That way parents could give providers an EYPP code rather than their personal sensitive data.’
Ceeda says the decline in funding may be linked to changes regarding eligibility under Universal Credit. The Department for Education was unable to clarify why the money has been reduced due to being in purdah for the upcoming election.
Ceeda’s annual report also shows that deprived areas are seeing a fall in state-run nurseries, while private settings in these areas face the most financial insecurity.
Nurseries in deprived areas are the most likely to suffer financial losses, with nearly two in five settings in deprived areas reported a loss compared with just over one in five (23 per cent) in more affluent areas.
In addition the public sector is increasingly withdrawing from providing places. ‘Ofsted data shows councils have de-registered a total of 226 settings, of which 71% were based in deprived communities’ the report said.
Poorer parts of the country have the fewest childcare options already, with the north east having lowest number of places per head relative to other parts of the country (0.25). Poorer areas have 0.26 places per person vs 0.44 in the least deprived areas, according to Ceeda’s About Early Years annual report
The richest regions, London and the south East, have seen a net increase in providers since march last year – while all other regions have seen a net decrease. However all regions have seen a net increase in places, indicating a trend towards fewer, larger nurseries.
In terms of quality, there is a relatively small gap (6 per cent) between those settings achieving outstanding ratings in the most deprived (21 per cent) and least deprived areas (27 per cent).
- The report is available here
- Ceeda will be holding a “big debate” on 23rd January in central London (venue tbc). Speakers include Neil Leitch, from the Early Years Alliance, Jo Verrill, Ceeda, Liz Roberts, from Nursery World, and Dr Eva Lloyd, UEL. To request an event closer to home see https://bit.ly/2N4QZUW