Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update, which provides a summary of the latest policy developments in England and Wales concerning childcare and early years, and how we are representing your views to key decision makers.
England and Wales
Building Blocks survey
This month we have launched Building Blocks, PACEY’s flagship sector-wide survey for all childcare and early years practitioners in England and Wales. The survey covers a range of topics, from qualifications and training to views on inspection and government-funded childcare. It is one of our primary means of building an evidence base to support our policy recommendations. As such, we are strongly urging all practitioners to fill it out by the deadline of 8th May to help us build a picture of the state of the sector to present to policymakers.
Childcare voucher scheme extension
The childcare voucher scheme will remain open for six months longer than planned, until October 2018. The scheme was due to be closed to new entrants from 6 April 2018. However, following a debate on the issue in the House of Commons, ministers agreed to a delay. MPs from all parties have opposition to the scheme’s closure.
GDPR tools and guidance
From 25th May 2018, data protection rules will change with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To help support the sector, PACEY has produced a range of easy-to-use resources. These include sample policies, factsheets, templates, support videos and FAQs which will continue to be updated as we find out more.
How much does childcare actually cost? Please tell the Government…again!
There has been a great deal of debate in the past few years about how much high quality childcare and early education costs to deliver, inspired in large part by the doubling of the free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds of working parents in September 2017. Six months after the rollout of 30 hours, the Department for Education (DfE) is now giving childcare providers another opportunity to explain how much it costs to deliver a place by submitting their financial information via a costs template. PACEY has been calling for years now for the free entitlement to reflect the actual cost of providing high quality childcare, and for a long-term sustainable funding settlement for the scheme. If you agree and want to see change, we strongly recommend that you submit the template to DfE by the deadline of 30th April. Our childminding cost calculator may help you to do this.
New PACEY guidance on SEF
On 1st April, Ofsted will remove the self-evaluation form (SEF) from its website in an effort to reduce the burden on early years providers. However, providers will still be expected to discuss their evaluation of their setting with Ofsted inspectors, who will ask about the quality of care and activities, and how well the setting is meeting the learning needs of all children. PACEY will continue to support members to do this through guidance on self-evaluation, and we have recently published a PACEY SEF template. Members can find their download in MyPACEY and non-members can purchase it in the shop.
30 hours update
The Department for Education (DfE) has released statistics on the number of 30 hours childcare codes issued and validated for the spring and summer terms. The percentage of validated codes for the spring term is now 93%, up 1% since last month, indicating that a majority of parents who have applied for a 30 hour place have received one. However, only 73% of codes for the summer term have been validated so far. For all 30 hour-related queries, visit our spotlight page.
A number of early years-related research reports have been published this month. Some of the key findings include:
- Half of local authorities in the UK don’t have enough childcare, according to the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual childcare report;
- There is an emerging downward trend in childcare and early years qualification levels, according to the Education Policy Institute’s report on the early years workforce in England
- Qualified staff are leaving nurseries because of underfunding and endemic low pay in the sector, according to the National Day Nurseries Association’s annual workforce survey.
It has been another busy month as the end of the financial year draws closer. This has brought with it positive news on the confirmation of future funding for the work of PACEY Cymru in Wales, through the Cwlwm consortium, for 2018-19. The team in Wales are working together with Cwlwm partners and the Welsh Government on delivery of targets, and we will share these once they have been confirmed.
There are a couple of updates to share in relation to CIW. The first is that there has been a change in the process for applying for DBS checks in Wales for childminders. PACEY Cymru have shared an update on this on our website. From 1 April 2018, you will be required to pay the DBS fee (currently £44) if you are registering, re-registering or need a new DBS check. The changes will also bring CIW into line with other UK regulators, for example Ofsted in England.
CIW has also now confirmed that it will begin to publish childminder inspection reports on its website from 3rd April 2018. This has been a discussion point for a number of years, and one that a number of childminders in Wales have been calling for to support promotion of their setting to parents and ease of access to inspection reports. As the reports will not contain the address of the registered service, the privacy of people using services and childminders themselves will be maintained. This was a key point of concern that PACEY Cymru had previously highlighted following member feedback, and we are glad this has been clarified
Childminders and related children in Wales
Following previous updates on the issue of childminders accessing childcare offer funding for children to whom they are related, the issue has been taken up to a senior level in Welsh Government, in the media, and by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, and discussions are progressing. The feedback received so far from childminders is showing the current and potential future impact of the policy is large, with around 37% of responses stating they are now or would be caring for a related child in the future. Feeling is strong on this issue with an overwhelmingly high percentage (92%) supporting our call for a change in the policy.
We are still collecting evidence on this issue, so if you are affected or will be affected in the future, please complete our short survey.