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DfE publishes annual stats on government-funded places

The Department for Education (DfE) has released its annual statistics on take-up of the early years and childcare entitlements for two-, three-, and four-year-olds, Provision for children under 5 years of age in England, January 2019. This is also known as the Early Years Census. The key findings are summarised below.

Two year old offer

  • 68 per cent of eligible two-year-olds took up some funded early education, down from 72 per cent in 2018. 
  • The majority (55 per cent) of two-year-olds are taking up their place at private, voluntary or independent (PVI) setting, and three per cent are taking it up at a childminding setting. Nine per cent of two-year-olds took up their funded place in a maintained nursery or school (a one per cent increase from last year).

Universal entitlement 

  • 94 per cent of the three- and four-year olds benefitted from some funded early education - the same rate as last year. However, the number decreased by 7,500 from January 2018 to 1,277,100. 
  • 92 per cent of three-year-olds took up some funding early education - the same rate as last year.
    • The majority (56 per cent) of three-year-olds are taking up their universal entitlement with PVI group setting, and two per cent are taking up their place with a childminder. The proportion attending a maintained nursery or school is 31 per cent.
  • 95 per cent of four-year-olds benefitted from some funded early education, the same as last year. 
    • The proportional split of four-year-olds across provider types has remained broadly similar in recent years with the majority (78 per cent) accessing their universal entitlement in reception classes in primary schools. 

30 hours funding 

  • The DfE estimates that four out of five eligible children are taking up 30 hours. As of January 2019, 328,100 three- and four-year-old children were in a 30 hours place. This is an 11 per cent increase compared to January 2018.
  • The majority of 30 hour places were provided by private, voluntary and independent providers including childminders.
  • A majority of PVI settings (87 per cent) and childminders (64 per cent) are currently delivering both the universal entitlement and 30 hours funding. However, only 32 per cent of maintained nurseries and schools are doing so, with 68 per cent only delivering the universal 15-hour entitlement.
  • In addition, 22 per cent of childminders are only delivering the 30 hour entitlement, and 13 per cent are delivering only the universal entitlement.

Ofsted ratings

  • 96 per cent of two-year-olds and 91 per cent of three- and four-year-olds took up a funded place at a setting rated good or outstanding. For two-year-olds this is an increase, but it is a decrease for three- and four-year-olds. 
  • For a 30 hours place, the figure is five points higher at 96 per cent, the same as last year.

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

“Whilst it is good that the majority of three- and four-year-olds are taking up some form of funded early education in a good or outstanding setting, the continued decline in the uptake of the two-year-old offer needs to be considered as a matter of urgency. These children would most benefit from quality early education and more needs to be done to encourage families to take up their entitlement. The number of childminders now offering funded place is positive but it hides a story of low funding rates, delayed payments and other ‘red tape’. Many childminders are offering places because they feel they have to or risk losing the families they support to other providers offering 30 hours."

"Ultimately many providers remain between a rock and a hard place, unable to cover the cost of delivering a funding place but equally unable to afford to lose a family they are supporting who now wants to access their entitlement. We hope the government uses the comprehensive spending review (CSR) to finally address the funding shortfall so many early years providers are facing.”