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Drop in childminder numbers continues

Ofsted has published its termly statistics on childcare providers and inspections in England covering the period between 31 December 2018 and 31 March 2019. The statistics show another decrease in the number of registered childminders, and a small increase in the number of non-domestic providers. A majority of providers (95 per cent) continue to be good or outstanding, the same proportion as the previous period.

Number of providers

Since last term, there has been another significant drop in the number of registered childminders, bringing the total number to 39,000 – 700 less than last time. This is the continuation of a downward trend, with a total drop of 19 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 December 2018), 1,300 childminders have left the sector and 500 have joined. In spite of this drop, the number of places offered by childminders has remained broadly stable, with childminders offering 18% of all places, a decrease of two per cent point since August 2015.

The number of non-domestic providers such as nurseries and pre-schools has increased by fewer than 100 since 31 December 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 31 August 2015.

Childcare on non-domestic premises still provide 81 per cent (1.1 million) of all childcare places, which is an increase of two point since August 2015. Childminders offer 18 per cent (240,700) of all places, a decrease of two 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 still stands at 95 per cent (78 per cent good and 17 per cent outstanding). For non-domestic providers, the number is 97 per cent (73 per cent good and 24 per cent outstanding), a slight increase from 96% on 31 December 2018. 

On 31 December 2018, all regions in England had fairly similar proportions of providers judged good or outstanding. However, the North East and South West have the highest proportion (97 per cent) and London the lowest (93 per cent).

Childminder agencies

On 31 March 2019, 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:
“We have lost almost 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 are working with researchers at University of Plymouth to identify why fewer people are choosing childminding as a career. PACEY is committed to tackling this issue as we believe childminding offers families unique, high quality and personalised childcare and early education. Future generations should not miss out.

“We know people will not continue to childmind forever, with most doing so for between 5-10 years. The number of childminders leaving the profession has remained fairly steady but the number joining has been reducing year on year. This means there are fewer people replacing those who are leaving childminding after an enjoyable and rewarding few years. So PACEY wants to see what more we can do to encourage new entrants rather than see potential childminders choose alternative jobs that offer flexibility but not necessarily the same enjoyment and reward of working with children.

“Recent decisions to end the childcare business grant for new childminders; registration delays at Ofsted, unnecessary bureaucracy and low income levels due to reduced government funding are putting more and more people off. We need to work with government to tackle these issues and for them to work with PACEY to reinvent childminding as the perfect flexible career for 21st century parents, carers and others who want to work with children. We have already started this work, both through our research with University of Plymouth and discussions with our members. We are certain there is more we can do to address this continued decline but only with the support of government, regulators and other stakeholders.”