Building Blocks 2017

PACEY’s second annual Building Blocks report reveals major challenges to the childcare sector, with confidence in the future decreasing.

The survey of almost 2000 early years practitioners, undertaken in late 2016, paints a picture of a dedicated and trained workforce, but highlights the issues that practitioners are facing at a critical time when the sector is poised to respond to the introduction of 30 hours free education entitlement in September 2017.

The report highlights just how highly experienced, increasingly well-qualified, dedicated and committed to improvement, early years professionals are. Nearly all (96%) respondents report that they find working in childcare and early years rewarding.

While the early years profession is fluid and people move in and out of different, related roles throughout their career, this latest research proves that individuals are staying in the sector for the long haul. Just under a third of respondents (32%) reported having worked in childcare/early years for 20 years or more.

One of the striking findings from the survey is the significant impact that early years qualifications and CPD have for professionals in all types of settings. 83% cited an improvement in everyday practice as a result of CPD they had undertaken and 74% said CPD had improved their confidence.

But the report revealed some stark divisions between those working in domestic and non-domestic settings.

Childminders are significantly less likely to offer funded places to 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds than group settings. They also report less partnership working with schools and health professionals, and are less likely to perceive that other professionals are willing to work with them.

There remains uncertainty about the new 30-hour entitlement. While nearly 40% of professionals say their setting is likely to offer 30 hours of free early education and childcare, around a third say they are not and another third say they do not know. The primary barrier for all types of settings is the low hourly rate.

But worryingly, nearly half (49%) of childminders surveyed said the reason why they didn’t offer funded places was because no parent had asked for a place, indicating a lack of demand from parents.


When asked to speculate what would cause them to leave the profession in the next year, the most commonly cited reason from childminders is lack of demand, while for professionals in group settings it is inadequate pay.

Liz Bayram, PACEY's Chief Executive, comments: “The next few months are set to be critical for the sector, as providers firm up their response to 30 hours and eligible parents decide where they will take up their entitlement. Clearly the funding rate will continue to be a major concern for many providers and PACEY is calling on government and local authorities to act now to ensure that the funding rate for the early years and childcare entitlement is sustainable for all providers.

"There are frequent reports that parents can’t find the childcare they need, yet our research shows childminders could deliver more funded places, but many parents don’t know they can access funding from a childminder. Local authorities need to do more to support and promote childminders to encourage parents to use them.

"The childminding community is crucial to the future of childcare in this country. With the right support, more childminders could successfully deliver funded hours but we need better recognition of the vital role childminders play in early education. PACEY will continue to speak up for childcare professionals to ensure that they have the support they need to continue the important work they do every day for children and their families across the UK."

Building Blocks is the largest annual sector-wide survey open to all early years professionals working in England, from childminders to nannies to staff working in nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups. Read the full report

Read the full report

You can download and read the full Building Blocks 2017 report here.