Alliance responds to latest early years attendance data from DfE

The Early Years Alliance has commented on the latest early years occupancy figures, released today, following a break in publication over the summer months. The data suggests that attendance at early years childcare settings on Thursday 16 September 2021 was around 76% of the daily average for the time of year.

The full dataset is available to view here:  Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Commenting, Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said:

"With one in five fewer children accessing early care and education compared to before the pandemic, these statistics are a timely reminder that, while many lockdown measures have now been removed, things remain far from normal for the sector.

"While we welcome the DfE's decision to continue collecting this data, we remain concerned that the decision to measure attendance, rather than occupancy, means that we have no idea of the extent to which families have reduced the number of days or hours they take up. At a time when the sector is crying out for greater support, more detailed data on changing occupancy levels would provide a much clearer picture of the impact of the pandemic on early years businesses.

"Early years providers remain on a financial knife edge, with many having to adapt their offering to remain viable. If the sector is to have any chance of recovering from what has been its most challenging period to date, the government needs to have an accurate picture of the challenges settings are facing. Only then it can provide the support needed to ensure the continued delivery of quality, accessible, sustainable provision in the years to come."