Ofsted has published its Annual Report 2018/19, which includes early years, as well as schools, further education, and skills and social care in England.
The section on early years makes the following key points:
- 96% of early years providers are judged Good or Outstanding
- Overall the number of childminders graded Good or Outstanding has remained stable at 95%
- The proportion of childminders judged to be Outstanding has increased
- The number of registered providers continues to fall to 76,300 - a 13% drop since 31 August 2015
- The number of places with all providers on the early years register has remained stable, indicating an increase in the average number of places per setting over time.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said:
“The new EIF's focus on supporting early literacy and numeracy, as part of a well-rounded curriculum, has been well received in early years settings who have so far been inspected, and the focus on reducing paperwork is very welcome. We're celebrating that 96% of early years providers are Good or Outstanding, but we're at a crossroads.
“The childcare sector is changing. There is ongoing decline in the number of people choosing to become a childminder; the number of small nursery and pre-school providers is reducing with the rise of large nursery chains. Without careful management by local authorities and government this is going to lead to less choice for families. Action will need to be taken to support the many small providers whose sustainability is most at risk of continued underfunding of early education entitlements.
“PACEY’s Inquiry into 21st Century Childminding is echoing the findings of Ofsted’s survey of childminders. PACEY wants to work with Ofsted, the DfE, local authorities and others to make childminding an attractive profession. The obstacles to achieving this are the same as always – low pay, too much red-tape and no start-up support. So we need new solutions or future generations will not enjoy the benefit of the flexible, personal childcare that so many families currently value from registered childminders. Our Inquiry findings – due in the Spring – will set out PACEY’s bold plan to reinvent childminding for future generations and we are looking forward to taking this forward with partners.
“There is also increasing evidence that the on-going training and development of practitioners is in decline and that settings are finding it hard to recruit qualified practitioners. With most practitioners on low incomes, paying for a qualification is unaffordable; it also does not lead to increased earnings and career progression for most.
"Quality early education is dependent on a well-qualified workforce. Without improved funding for government-funded early education (so settings can invest in their staff) and without a workforce strategy that supports career progression, future generations of children will not benefit from the high quality of education and care our under-5s currently enjoy."