Alliance comments on NAHT report on funded childcare

8th September 2015

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has welcomed a new report by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) which calls on the government to ensure proper planning and funding ahead of the roll-out of the extended childcare offer for three- and four-year-olds.

A survey conducted by the union found that:

  • 59% of school nurseries do not currently receive enough funding to cover the cost of funded places for three- and four-year-olds
  • 40% of schools said that increasing the free entitlement offer to 30 hours a week would make their provision less sustainable (vs 15% who felt it would make their provision more sustainable, and 45% who weren’t sure)
  • 66% thought that the 30 hour offer would reduce the number of children they could accommodate.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“The early years sector has been significantly underfunded for many years, forcing providers to find other ways to cover the cost of providing places. For maintained settings, this often means raiding the rest of the schools budget, as highlighted in this report; for PVI providers, it has meant minimal wages and an over-reliance on fundraising and the work of volunteers to stay afloat. And across the board, childcare costs for additional hours have inevitably risen as providers struggle to plug the growing funding gap. Clearly, this cannot continue.

“As the NAHT report highlights, extending funded childcare hours could result not only in increased costs to parents, but also in a shortage of places, as many providers simply do not have the capacity to double the number of funded hours they offer. It’s vital that government resists the temptation to rush out a policy that, while attractive on the surface, is simply unworkable in its current form.

“While we welcome the fact that the issue of underfunding has now been acknowledged by government, this report highlights the huge scale of the problem that needs tackling. The Department for Education has often said that it wants a school-led early years system, and yet even schools aren’t being adequately funded. It’s clear that this is not just a PVI problem; it’s a sector-wide problem. Government must now commit to making fundamental changes to the early years funding system that ensure that all providers are fairly funded, not just today but in the long term.”

For further information or to interview, Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance please contact:
Shannon Hawthorne
Pre-school Learning Alliance
T: 020 7697 2503
E: Shannon Hawthorne

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Notes for editors

  1. The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest voluntary sector provider of quality affordable childcare and education in England.
  2. Through direct provision and its membership of 14,000 nurseries, sessional pre-schools and parent and toddler groups, the Alliance supports over 800,000 children and their families in England. The Alliance also develops and runs family learning programmes, offers information and advice, runs acclaimed training and accreditation programmes and campaigns to influence early years policy and practice.
  3. For information about the Pre-school Learning Alliance, visit our website: www.pre-school.org.uk

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