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.
30 hours: one year on
September marks the first anniversary of the national rollout of the 30-hour early education and childcare entitlement. A flurry of reports have been published to mark the occasion, including PACEY’s own Building Blocks survey, the Government’s independent evaluation of the scheme, and new research on take-up of all of the funded entitlements.
The first report from our latest Building Blocks survey focuses on the impact of 30 hours on providers. Fifty-nine per cent of childminders and 88 per cent of group-based practitioners reported they are currently delivering funded places of some kind. However, 41 per cent of childminders and 46 per cent of group-based practitioners said they had experienced a decrease in their profits directly due to 30 hours. Nearly half of childminders (44 per cent) do not think it will be sustainable to offer 30 hours in the long term, and around a third plan to limit the number of funded places they offer in the future. Read the full report.
The independent evaluation of 30 hours, carried out by researchers at Frontier Economics and the University of East London, found similar results. A high proportion of providers delivering the funded entitlement were willing and able to offer the extended hours, but the financial impacts were mixed, with 39 percent reporting that there had been a reduction in their profit or surplus. The offer was not completely flexible or free for all parents with substantial proportions reporting restrictions on when they could use the hours or that they had to pay charges for additional items or activities. The uncertainty about parents’ future responses and the fact that two terms were not sufficient for providers to assess the financial impact of delivering the extended offer meant that some providers were waiting to see if delivering the extended hours will be financially viable in the long term. Read the full evaluation.
The findings from both reports reinforce the need for the Government to act on the recommendations PACEY has been making over the past year. In particular. It must urgently increase funding levels and establish a formal annual review, so that funding keeps pace with inflation; pay providers on a monthly basis as soon as possible; and ensure local authorities streamline their paperwork and remove unnecessary demands for additional documents and training. Childminders should also be permitted to deliver funded places to children related by blood or marriage, as long as they are not living at the same address.
The Department for Education (DfE) has also published new research from NatCen Social Research and ASK Research on take-up of the 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old entitlements, in an effort to understand why 2-year-old take-up rates have stalled and take-up of the 3- and 4-year-old entitlement has decreased. The research found that take-up is associated with region, economic disadvantage, English as an additional language (EAL), ethnicity, population mobility, and employment status at an area level. Across all areas, children from the most disadvantaged families, who stand to gain most, are least likely to access the funded entitlements. The authors suggest that some specific actions may improve take-up, relating to funding, support for schools and childminders, communication and practical support for parents. However, while there is still scope to improve take-up, the evidence suggests that some parents will continue choosing to begin formal early education when their child is older, meaning that there may be a limit to the take-up rates achieved.
If you would like to share your experience of funded hours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest SEED report: impact of childcare on 4-year-olds
The latest report from the longitudinal Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) looks at the impact of early education and childcare on 4-year-olds. It found that better non-verbal reasoning ability and better socio-emotional outcomes were associated with more hours spent in formal group settings (e.g. nursery classes, nursery schools, day nurseries and playgroups). More hours with childminders was associated with lower levels of Emotional Symptoms. The report indicated the value of high quality early education and childcare, and suggests that efforts to further improve the quality of provision may be expected to lead to further improved child outcomes. The report findings suggest that even children with the most stimulating home learning environments still stand to benefit from spending time in formal early education and childcare. Read the full report.
Reminder: Related children campaign
Did you know that childminders in England are not permitted to deliver any funded places to children related to them by blood or marriage? PACEY believes this is unfair, and is urging all affected childminders and their families to write to their MP to share their personal experience of this ban, and ask the Government to overturn it. Download our template letter, media pack and read our case studies at pacey.org.uk/related-children.
There are a few updates to share with members related to CIW following the summer break and an update on the Childcare Offer for Wales.
As shared with you before the summer break, ratings will be published from CIW inspections of Childcare and Play services from January 2019. Silent ratings were originally introduced in 2016, and CIW will be publishing ratings for all day care services who have received a silent rating and for newly registered services. CIW have produced an Inspection Guide for Providers which explains the ratings in detail. A rating will be awarded against each of the four inspection themes on the Inspection Framework Wellbeing, Care and Development, Environment and Leadership and Management. The ratings will be Excellent, Good, Adequate and Poor.
It will be important, in future, for providers to be able to demonstrate what they have changed or done differently as a consequence of the ratings received. As part of PACEY Cymru’s work with Cwlwm and our engagement with CIW, we are working with them to get a picture of how the introduction of ratings is being received by the sector. We are looking for settings who have received a rating from CIW at their latest inspection to complete a short survey to support our continued work and to influence developments. Take the survey.
CIW have announced that childcare and play providers are not required to complete a Self Assessment of Service (SASS) for 2018-19. Providers do however need to ensure their Quality of Care Review is up to date. CIW have decided to prioritise the development of online registrations and notifications for childcare and play services to help improve engagement with them. PACEY Cymru have raised concerns with CIW that the change in position for 2018, following the growth of the SASS in 2016 and 2017, could lead to a loss of momentum towards online services and needs to be closely watched. We will be meeting with CIW later in the autumn and this will be one of the points discussed.
Update on the Childcare Offer for Wales
The offer for Wales continues to grow as more Local Authorities came on board this month as part of the pilot. The latest areas where the offer is available can be found on the Welsh Government website.
PACEY Cymru attended the Childcare Offer Stakeholder meeting earlier this month to discuss key areas of development. One of these is around funding to support children with additional learning needs (ALN) accessing the offer. A public consultation on the options for this is planned for early 2019.
There is also a focus on the administration of the offer in Wales, and options for this were discussed which link to the Bill currently passing through the Welsh Assembly. Once further details on this are available PACEY Cymru will provide an update.
Engagement around the offer continues following the previous events that were held to gain feedback from providers. There will be further events held in the autumn, and Welsh Government have noted previous concerns raised by PACEY Cymru, alongside other organisations and individuals, that the timing of events needs to be more accessible to the wider sector so these will be held over evenings and weekends. PACEY Cymru will share the details for these once they are published.