According to annual statistics for provision for children under five in England, as of January 2018, 80 per cent of three- and four-year-olds taking up 30 hours places were doing so at private and voluntary nurseries, pre-schools or with childminders.
For three-year-olds on the 30 hours, 82 per cent were in PVI settings, and for four-year-olds, 76 per cent.
In January, a term after the 30 hours had come into force, 296,920 three- and four-year-old children benefitted from the extended entitlement.
A total of 32,250 settings provided extended funded early education to three- and four-year-old children, including 11,220 childminders.
The figures show that 7 per cent of three- year-olds, 6 per cent of four-year-olds, and 7 per cent of three-and four-year-olds, were using their 30 hours place in a childminder setting.
When a child splits their entitlement over more than one provider, the provider where they spend the majority of their time is counted.
As childminders often provide wraparound care, the report said that they are under-reported.
In the maintained sector, 14 per cent of three-year-olds, 19 per cent of four-year-olds, and 15 per cent of three- and four-year-olds were accessing the 30 hours in nursery classes in primary schools.
In maintained nursery schools 3 per cent of three-, four-, and three- and four-year-olds were using their 30 hours place.
The Pre-school Learning Alliance said that the statistics proved the ‘pivotal role’ that private and voluntary early years providers played in the delivery of the 30-hour offer, and said that without adequate funding more providers would close or stop offering the 30-hour places.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, ‘Why is it, then, that the Government still refuses to listen to the valid concerns of the very sector that is so critical to the successful roll-out of this policy? The simple fact is that current funding rates do not meet the ever-rising costs of providing 30 hours places – and yet, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders across the country are expected to survive on them until at least 2020. Every week, we see more and more quality providers being forced to close their doors, and yet the Government continues to deny that there’s any problem.
He added that ‘the figures show that any hope of the 30 hours offer succeeding in the long term rests on the private and voluntary sector - but without adequate funding, more and more providers will find that they simply cannot afford to continue offering places. While some may be able to survive in the short-term by increasing fees and introducing additional charges, this isn’t sustainable in the long term. Neither parents nor providers should have to pay the price for a pledge that Government chose to make.’
Figures from the National Day Nurseries Association survey, published earlier this month, show that the number of nursery closures has risen by 47 per cent in a year, with an emerging trend of setting closures linked to the 30 hours.
Liz Bayram, chief executive of the PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years), said, ‘It is good news that a majority of three- and four-year-olds are taking up some form of funded early education in a good or outstanding setting. However, it is concerning that uptake of the two-year-old offer has remained static. The Government should investigate the reasons behind the stall as a matter of urgency.
‘PACEY are pleased to see evidence that childminders – who have historically been under-represented in the delivery of the funded entitlements – are playing a bigger role, particularly in 30 hours. We urge Government and local authorities to build on this progress by removing the key barriers preventing more being involved: low funding rates, delayed payments and other red tape. More also needs to be done to raise awareness among parents that childminders can provide funded places, on their own or in partnership with other settings.’
- ‘Provision for children under 5 years of age in England, January 2018’ here