Ofsted statistics show large decline in childminders

Olivia McCrea-Hedley
Thursday, November 13, 2014

More than 3,000 childminders have left the profession in the last six months.

Ofsted’s latest statistics on the number of registered childcare providers and places reveal that between 31 March and 31 August 2014, 3,311 childminders left the profession, while 1,938 joined.

As of 31 August there were 50,416 childminders, down from 51,789 five months prior, which equates to a fall of 1,373.

The number of nurseries also fell, but by just eight places, from 25,547 to 25,539 over the five-month period. According to the data, there were 1,140 nursery leavers and 1,148 joiners.

Joiners are the number of providers that have been added to Ofsted’s registration database between the March-August period. Most of these are new registrations, but the figures also include providers that have re-activated registration or changed provider type or register.

Leavers are the number of providers that have been edited to an ‘inactive’ status in Ofsted’s registration database during the five-month period Most of these are resignations, but the data can also include providers that have had their registration cancelled or changed provider type or register.

Comparing the data with Ofsted’s last report for the six month period prior to 31 March 2014, the figures show that the number of providers has continually fallen in the past 11 months. Between 20 September 2013 and 31 March 2014 the number of childminders dropped by 2,149 and the number of nursery providers by 11.

The figures for 31 March to 30 September 2014 also indicate a drop in the number of childminder places from 265,366 to 263,129.

In contrast, the number of nursery places actually increased by 3,498, with figures rising from 1,022,563 to 1,026,261.

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, 'It is concerning to see a decline in the total number of registered childcare providers, and particularly in the number of registered childminders.

'A healthy and robust childcare sector must offer a flexible choice of childcare setting for parents, and the decline in childminders threatens this. The data reveals that the number of childcare places however has increased, most likely a result of the Government’s extension of free early education to disadvantaged two-year-olds. It is clear the childcare sector is changing with some providers expanding their places. One aspect of this is the number of registered childminders employing childminding assistants.

'Separate Ofsted data shows around 15,000 registered childminders now employ at least one childminding assistant. This means more childminder settings can offer more childcare places overall and offer valuable support for families. PACEY will continue to do all it can to ensure that local authorities fulfil their statutory duty to provide sufficient childcare places for their local communities, including recruiting new childminders, and provide existing childminders with the right level of support to help them remain within the profession.'

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, 'We are concerned to see such a sharp decline in the number of childminders in the early years sector.
 
'Childminders play a crucial role in the provision of high-quality, flexible early education and care in this country, and yet all too often they are unfairly overlooked and dismissed by both Government and Ofsted. Add to this the continued uncertainty over the impact of childminder agencies, the decline in local authority support and guidance, and the ongoing lack of adequate free entitlement funding and it is unsurprising that so many childminders are choosing to leave the sector.
 
'It’s vital that the Government recognises the value of the services that childminders provide to children and families and ensures that they are adequately supported – both financially and practically – to continue providing them.'

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