The Government has published the early years model agreement and the revised local authority statutory guidance which support delivery of the 30 hours free early entitlement offer.
The model agreement sets out the Department for Education’s expectations for what should be included in agreements set up between local authorities and providers to deliver the free education entitlement.
The document sets out responsibilities from local authorities, including ensuring sufficiency of childcare for eligible children in their area, and being clear about their role in meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities. It also sets out responsibilities for providers in delivery of the free entitlement, including submitting regular data to local authorities, maintaining records and charging.
The statutory guidance sets out in detail what local authorities must adhere to in delivering the free entitlement (both 15 hours and 30 hours). It covers:
- childminder agencies
- local authorities duties to secure early education for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds
- the provision of information for parents
- responsibilities to ensure the promotion of British values.
Responding to the publication of the documents, Liz Bayram said:
"We're glad the statutory guidance and model agreement has now been published as it gives providers the information they need to better understand how local authorities should administer free early education. Whilst there is still room to improve the agreement further, it at least sets out the assumption all LAs should be administering funding in similar ways. This consistency is something our members have long wished for.
PACEY has worked hard on behalf of its members to ensure the model agreement supports their and other providers' needs alongside the requirements LAs have and is pleased that a number of concessions, including being able to charge a deposit and to remove the wide variety of requirements imposed by LAs on providers to deliver the free entitlement. The focus now has to be on ensuring LAs use this model agreement and, as we move into delivery of 30 hours, supporting the DfE to further update it where experience shows it is still not delivering the clarity providers desperately need.
There are still a number of areas in the model agreement that allow for significant variation in interpretation and confusion on what is and isn’t allowed, including resolving outstanding issues such as conditionality . We remain concerned over the issue of additional charges. We know that many providers will struggle to offer a truly equitable service to all families when charges for anything in addition to childcare have to be voluntary. We encourage the Government to use the early implementation areas as an opportunity to review how workable this is before full roll out in September. “
A full analysis of what members need to know about the guidance will follow.