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New SEED report on quality in group early years settings in England

The Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) project has published a report on the quality of early years provision in England. The publication focuses on group early years settings such as nurseries and pre-schools. The quality of childminding provision was examined in an earlier SEED report in 2015.

Key findings:

  • Quality across all types of group providers was "'generally at least adequate"
  • The quality of settings and staff qualification levels have improved in England over the past 16 years
  • The quality of provision was similar across advantaged and disadvantaged areas
  • Across most settings, higher quality was associated with:
    • staff training and development, including having a training plan, a training budget or more frequent Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
    • lower staff turnover and having a narrower age range of children accepted at the setting.
  • In private and voluntary group settings, higher quality was also associated with having a higher mean level of staff qualification and a higher staff to child ratio across the whole setting, i.e. fewer children per member of staff.

PACEY Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, commented on the findings:

“This latest SEED study reinforces what Ofsted has demonstrated too, that quality in early years settings has increased over the past few years. This is something everyone working in early years should be immensely proud of, but no one in early years needs reminding that quality is now at risk.

"Increasing costs alongside poor funding levels for ‘free’ places for two-, three-, and four-year-olds are beginning to take their toll. Our own research shows that providers’ investment in training and CPD is in decline as they struggle to maintain sustainable businesses. We know that high staff turnover continues to be a problem for many settings due to the low wages and poor career progression available to early years practitioners. None of this is news to anyone in early years.

"What matters now is how government responds to these challenges, and ensures adequate funding to support well qualified practitioners to stay in the sector and deliver high quality care. Just this week, England came in eighth place in a global ranking of the reading skills of 10-year-olds. The OECD has again reinforced that investing in early years is what matters most when supporting all children, especially our most disadvantaged, to succeed at school. Government has the policy levers to ensure the high quality experiences our pre-school children are enjoying today are not lost to future generations.”