Government announces £100m in capital funding to support expansion of early years provision
Friday, October 27, 2023
The Department for Education has announced £100m in capital funding is being made available to support childcare settings to expand their provision, along with regulatory changes to the EYFS.
£100m in capital funding is being made available for local areas to support childcare settings to expand their provision, ahead of the 30 hours extension, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced today (27 October).
The response to the recent early years foundation stage (EYFS) consultation was also published by the DfE today.
Within the announcements made by the education secretary Gillian Keegan, the childminder start-up grant scheme was confirmed to open for applications by Thursday 30 November 2023. This grant of £600 for those who choose to register with Ofsted and £1,200 for those who choose to register with a childminder agency ‘will help to boost the numbers of childminders working to offer parents more flexible childcare’, the DfE said.
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The £100m capital funding will be distributed by local authorities ‘to support childcare settings in their areas to increase their physical space, anticipated to add thousands of new places across the country’, the DfE said.
The funding is in addition to the £289 million wraparound childcare fund, to extend care for primary school children. ’Funding is being distributed to all local authorities on the basis of anticipated need, plugging gaps in the existing market,’ the DfE said. Local authorities are expected to be given details of their allocation of the fund today.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: ‘While any support to boost capacity in the sector is of course welcome, the fact is that all the physical space in the world won't achieve anything if we don't have sufficient early years staff to deliver places and meet increased demand from families.’
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA, said: ‘We now need to ensure this money is passed to those providers who are actually working with the youngest children where the expansion in places is planned. Local authorities must make sure this money is available to all types of provider in their local area and don’t duplicate existing high quality provision.’
The DfE’s response to the consultation on regulatory changes to the EYFS, was also published today.
Changes being introduced include allowing managers to decide whether students and apprentices can count in ratios where appropriate. ‘This will empower managers and allow trainees to build more valuable experience so they can flourish in their early years career,’ the DfE said
Another change will be to remove the requirement for Level 3 practitioners to hold a GCSE maths qualification, or equivalent, to count within ratios, and to place it on managers instead.
However, some of the proposed changes that consultation responses suggested will not go ahead, including the proposal to change staff:child ratio requirements outside of core hours, because it ‘would not help achieve the Government’s aim of removing unnecessary burdens’, the DfE said.
Ms Tanuku of the NDNA welcomed the changes around Level 2 maths, ’which historically has made it difficult for some people who are potentially very good practitioners from entering or progressing in the workforce’. ‘We would urge the Government to look at evidence-based programmes like NDNA’s maths champions to train and support the workforce to ensure children develop maths understanding,’ she said.
However, Mr Leitch of the Early Years Alliance, said that while the organisation welcomed the fact that ‘some of the most damaging proposals in the consultation have been scrapped’, the remaining changes – alongside the recent relaxation of ratios –‘represent an incredibly concerning direction of travel for early years policy’.
In her announcement, Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said: ’Flexibility is at the heart of our plans to transform childcare for families, whether it’s offering quality childcare out of school hours or making sure there are more early years places where they’re needed most.
‘This is the largest investment in childcare in our history, so I encourage people with young children or those thinking about starting a family to visit the Childcare Choices website to find out what they’re eligible for.’