Families rely on PVI providers for extended ‘free’ hours, data shows

Friday, June 26, 2020

Pre-Covid Government statistics highlight the vital role of the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) childcare sector in delivering the free entitlement.

More than 90 per cent of three and four-year-olds were taking up free  childcare places before coronavirus.
More than 90 per cent of three and four-year-olds were taking up free childcare places before coronavirus.

The Department for Education has published its latest annual data which tracks the provision of funded early education for children in the maintained and PVI childcare sectors in England.

Information from schools, maintained nurseries, local authorities and private, voluntary and independent nurseries, pre-schools and childminders, was taken in January 2020 as part of the early years and spring school censuses.

Key findings include:

  • The proportion of eligible two-year-olds benefiting from funded early education has increased from 68 per cent to 69 per cent 
  • The proportion of three and four-year-olds benefiting from funded entitlement remains at 93 per cent 
  • 345,700 three and four-year-olds benefited from extended early entitlement, a year on rise of five per cent

The majority of three-year-olds access their funded early education in PVI settings.

The proportional split of four-year-olds across provider types has remained broadly similar in recent years with the majority accessing their funded early education in primary Reception classes.

While the majority of extended early education for three and four-year-olds was accessed at PVIs, the proportion provided at maintained schools has increased slightly since its introduction in 2018 from 18 per cent to 21 per cent. 

Past figures suggested that in the first year of the extended entitlement, schools were offering the first 15 funded hours and private, voluntary and independent providers were providing the extended entitlement as wraparound care. The increase from 20 per cent to 21 per cent seen this year suggests schools are slowly continuing to extend their provision to include the extended entitlement.

The report also details qualification levels of staff delivering funded education.

It found that 63 per cent of staff in PVIs have a full and relevant EY Level 3 qualification. This has remained stable since 2018.

The number of staff in PVIs with graduate status has risen by two per cent in the last year.  A total 23,100 early years staff have graduate status compared to 22,500 in 2019.

At the National Day Nurseries Association, chief executive Purnima Tanuku says the figures show just how important private, voluntary and independent providers are in delivering high quality early education to our youngest children.

‘Early years are a crucial stage of a child’s development and the high percentage of children in good or outstanding settings is a credit to the hard work providers put in,’ she said.

‘The levels of qualification in the sector mirror our own workforce research which showed a developing crisis with more Government investment needed for staff and training.

‘However, this data all comes from before coronavirus hit. Providers are now looking at reduced demand and lower capacity to provide childcare places. They are also facing increased costs as they increase staff numbers to keep children in small groups and put in place protective measures to keep children and staff safe. 

‘These factors affect sustainability and almost three quarters of providers expect to operate at a loss over the coming months. This can’t carry on and could lead to widespread closures.

‘If the Government wants to see high quality childcare available into the future the sector urgently needs access to recovery and transformation fund. With the real risk of childcare businesses having to close the chronic underfunding of early years must be addressed in the Chancellor’s emergency budget.’

Read the report here 



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