About Early Years’ robust and weighted analysis of what is happening under the 30 hours programme backs up other recent surveys in finding a substantial number of settings making extra charges to parents – with some doing the same for parents taking 15 hours, even for two-year-olds in some cases. Restrictions are being put on delivery of hours.
Cost-cutting is also prevalent for resources, activities and training, with hiring of staff with lower qualifications and use of higher ratios also becoming more frequent.
Yet at the same time, the UK’s childcare sector is seen as very attractive to investors around the globe, partly because of the Government’s commitment in the form of 30 hours, which embeds childcare as an essential part of community infrastructure, as Christie & Co’s new Business Outlook report points out (page 4).
The reputation of the Early Years Foundation Stage is also a major draw, particularly in countries such as China, where there is great interest in setting up partnerships with British nursery operators to import this model of early years education.
Great change is likely for the early years sector, as some smaller individual nurseries struggle and may sell up; nursery groups grow; and overseas investors enter the UK market.
This all makes it even more vital that high quality provision is preserved and the EYFS continues to be a standard bearer for best practice. The severe pressures on the early years sector are not going to make this easy.