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Significant drop in childminders but inspection judgements improve

Ofsted has published its termly statistics on childcare providers and inspections in England covering the period between 31 August 2018 and 31 December 2018. The statistics show another decrease in the number of registered childminders, and an increase in the number of non-domestic providers. A majority of providers (95 per cent) continue to be good or outstanding, an increase of one per cent compared to last year.

Number of providers

Since last term, there has been another significant drop in the number of registered childminders, bringing the total number to 39,700 – 1000 less than last time. This is the continuation of a downward trend, with a total drop of 17 per cent since 31 August 2015. The decline in childminders has been driven by more providers leaving than joining the childcare sector. Since last year (31 August 2018), 1,700 childminders have left the sector and 700 have joined. In spite of this drop, the number of places offered by childminders has remained stable, with childminders offering 19% of all places, a decrease of only one per cent point since August 2015.

The number of non-domestic providers such as nurseries and pre-schools has decreased by fewer than 50 since 31 August 2018. In contrast to childminders, the number of non-domestic providers has remained fairly stable over time, and only decreased by one per cent since August 2015.

Childcare on non-domestic premises now provide 81 per cent (1.1 million) of all childcare places, which is an increase of one point since August 2015. Childminders offer 19 per cent (244,400) of all places, a decrease of one point since 2015.

Inspection judgments

The proportion of childcare providers on the Early Years Register judged to be good or outstanding is 95 per cent. This has been consistent since last term, but is a substantial increase from August 2015 when the proportion was 85 per cent.

The proportion of childminders judged good or outstanding now stands at 95 per cent (78 per cent good and 17 per cent outstanding). For non-domestic providers, the number is 96 per cent (73 per cent good and 24 per cent outstanding). 

On 31 December 2018, all regions in England had fairly similar proportions of providers judged good or outstanding. However, the North East has the highest proportion (96 per cent) and London the lowest (91 per cent).

Childminder agencies

On 31 December 2018, 11 childminder agencies were registered with Ofsted. Of these, six had childminders on roll and were therefore eligible for inspection. All six childminder agencies have been inspected to date and all have been judged ‘Effective’.

Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) comments on the latest figures:

“We have lost another thousand childminders in England at a time when demand for childcare has never been higher, and childminding should be thriving. The continued drop in registered childminders is a major concern for PACEY, so much so that we have now commissioned a team of researchers at University of Plymouth to identify what is causing this decline and, in particular, why fewer people are choosing childminding as a career. Its findings will inform both PACEY’s future plans and its policy goals.

“We know people will not continue to childmind forever, with most doing so for between 5-10 years. The challenge is how to encourage new entrants to replace those who are leaving. The recent decision to end the childcare business grant for childminders has had a negative impact as will the continued registration delays at Ofsted. However there are more fundamental issues that need addressing, notably sustainable funding for early education places; the right to receive this funding for related children; and the ongoing need to support parents to better understand the high quality that childminding offers.

“Childminding makes a unique contribution to the childcare market and its continued to decline will have a negative impact for children and families. PACEY will continue to do all it can to encourage the policy change and investment needed to sustain childminding.”