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Ofsted figures show falling places, rising outcomes

A drop in the number of registered childcare providers has caused early years places to decrease by 11,529 between March and August this year, suggest new Ofsted statistics.

While the number of childminders has fallen by 1,449 (3%), the number of providers on non-domestic premises has also decreased by 629 (2%) during the period.

The number of places offered by providers on the Early Years Register (EYR) has decreased by 1% to 1.29 million — a drop of 11,529 places.

‘This decrease has resulted from the number of non-domestic childcare places falling by 12,011 (1%), partly due to the introduction of the exemption for schools from registering their early years provision for two-year-olds,’ Ofsted claims in its report.

The inspectorate also confirms that, while the number of childminders on the EYR has fallen, increases in places offered by remaining childminders mean that the total number of places offered by this type of provider has increased by 55 during the five-month period.

Despite this drop in numbers, the proportion of providers on the EYR judged to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ has increased from 80% to 85% in the year preceding 31 August 2015.

However, the proportion receiving a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ judgement has not changed since 31 March 2015, Ofsted confirmed.

The Alliance has expressed “deep concern” over the new statistics, with chief executive Neil Leitch stating: “At a time when government is looking to maximise capacity ahead of the roll-out of the 30-hour scheme, it’s critical that urgen action is taken in order to tackle this problem.”

Regarding the drop in childminders specifically, which Ofsted describes as ‘a continuing trend that has seen numbers decrease for the last three years’, Neil added: “Clearly, previous plans to rely on childminder agencies as a way of attracting and retaining childminders have failed — something that most in the sector predicted from the outset.

“We have already lost around 10,000 childminders in the past three years. We cannot afford for this trend to continue.”