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Just one in 10 children return to early years settings

By Rachel Lawlerchildren running

Just one in 10 children returned to their early years setting after they reopened to more children on 1 June, according to new statistics from the Department for Education (DfE).

The DfE confirmed that an estimated 166,000 children were attending an early years setting on 4 June, which is just 10% of the usual number attending in term-time, up from just 5% in May.

The statistics also show that an estimated 33,000 settings were open on 4 June, up from 25,000 on 21 May.

This means that around 48% of early years providers were open, with 44% closed. The status of other settings was not known.

The statistics do not include any record of the number of settings that have reopened with reduced hours or restrictions on the children that can attend.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "These sobering figures clearly show the scale of the challenge facing nurseries, pre-schools and childminders as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

"While many childcare providers have been working hard to prepare to welcome children back into safe and positive learning environments, the demand for places is nowhere near what it would have been in normal circumstances.

"This means that settings across the country, which were often already struggling financially as the result of years of government underfunding, are facing a sharp drop in income, with many unsure if they will be able to remain sustainable in the long term.

"We have long warned of the impact that the expected fall in parental demand for places during this pandemic would have on the sector. Despite this, the government has failed to commit to any form of transitional funding to help support early years providers through this incredibly difficult period, or to offer settings any support with the additional costs of operating safely during this crisis - such as cleaning and PPE - as it has done for schools.

"Ministers have made clear their desire to return to some kind of normality as soon as possible, but without a functioning, sustainable childcare sector, this simply won't be possible."

Useful links

See the statistics in full

Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings

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