House of Commons Debate on the 30 Hours childcare offer this Thursday

House of Commons Debate on the 30 Hours childcare offer this Thursday

A House of Commons debate on the ‘effect of the 30 hours’ is to take place on Thursday 12 October.

With the 30 hours childcare offer now in its second month of running, Labour MP for High Peak Ruth George has invited the children and families minister Robert Goodwill to attend a debate that she states will bring the issues faced in High Peak to a “national level’ discussing the “free, but underfunded childcare” scheme.

“It will be easy for the Government to think they have ‘got away with’ the underfunding of the additional hours – childminders, those running nurseries and working parents of small children are generally busier than most of the population – so less likely to complain.” Ms George has said. She sees the debate as a chance to ‘ensure that proper scrutiny is put in place, and the government are held to account for their funding levels and the impact it will have’

Childcare providers and parents are being urged to get in contact with their local MPs to request that they attend the debate and raise any concerns or questions which could be discussed. They can also email Ms George at ruth.george.mp@parliament.uk

More can be read by following the link below on why Ruth George is holding the debate;

https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/nursery-world/opinion/1162484/why-i-have-called-for-mps-to-debate-the-30-hours

30 Hour childcare “free” childcare offer: a look at the funding

30 Hour childcare “free” childcare offer: a look at the funding

The 30 hour childcare offer has now launched in England. The offer is designed to help hundreds of thousands of parents across the country benefit from free childcare, consequently allowing them to work. However, with the Telegraph recently stating that nurseries believe “the scheme is doomed” and the BBC reporting “education charities are warning of chaos” why is there so much concern? Here we explore what has been said around the levels of funding so far.

The government claims that the new 30 hours childcare offer saves families on average around £5,000 per year per child, and the scheme will now be backed by an extra £1 billion per year by 2020.

In a press release from Justine Greening on the Thursday 31st August she quoted Lesley Calvert, manager of Funfishers Pre-school in York, which was one of the 8 local authorities chosen as an early implementer:

“Delivering 30 hours has been a real success for us, and our parents have been able to go back to work or increase their hours without worrying about the cost of childcare.”

The total average hourly funding rate to local authorities is now £4.94, which according to the DFE, is a favourable comparison to the national average cost of providing childcare to 3 and 4 year olds which is £3.73 per hour, as stated in a report by Frontier Economics. However, it could be argued that the report covered a relatively small sample of providers: 166 settings were visited to collect cost data between April to December 2015 http://www.frontier-economics.com/documents/2017/01/seed-the-cost-and-funding-of-early-education.pdf

We know figures reported by the Free School Alliance detailed that of 1,400 nursery providers they consulted, 74% of respondents said their current funding from the government would not cover the cost of delivering the 30-hour free childcare places. They also raised concerns that the £4.94 that is given to local authorities is not being translated to the childcare providers, and according to their research, the average funding rate to given to providers is actually £4.27 per child with some providers receiving less that £3.60

On Thursday (31st August) the BBC reported that Karen Simpkin, who runs a nursery in Sheffield stated: “It costs me £7.50 an hour to look after a child in my nursery, but I’m only going to get £4.07 an hour from the government. I already know that I’m going to make a loss“.

In conclusion, where the offer can significantly benefit families’ lifestyle choices, it is clear that the levels of success will vary greatly across the from area to area. Ongoing and independent evaluation will be imperative to ensure providers are being appropriately funded and that parents are not facing increasing additional charges which could ultimately diminish then benefits of the offer.

We would love to hear your views and experiences of the 30 hour funding so far.

No-nonsense. Does the UK prize discipline over creativity in education?

The BBC reporting on the Pew Research Centre’s research on public attitudes towards education in 19 countries, describes the UK’s ‘no-nonsense’ approach to education as being akin to countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, where the expectation is that schools should get on with teaching the basics. But is this what the research says?

The highlight of the research surrounds what some see as the dichotomy between discipline and creativity. The Pew survey asked the following question:

It is more important that the schools in our country teach students…

A)      Basic academic skills and encourage discipline

B)      To be creative and think independently

Of the 19 countries surveyed, the respondents in ‘advanced’ countries were more likely to come down on the side of creativity. Spain, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden were the top scorers at the creativity end of the spectrum.  The UK, in contrast, saw 51% of respondents prioritising discipline and the basics. This sees the UK being comparable with ‘developing’ countries including Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

Other findings from the research suggest that in most advanced economies education is an ideological issue, with the ‘left’ more likely to prioritise creativity and independent thinking. The US saw the biggest difference between left and right, with 67% and 34% respectively prioritising creativity. The UK was next with 60% of the left and 29% of the right prioritising creativity. Coupled with this is the finding that the younger generation finds creativity and independent thinking in schools to be more important.

Taking the research at face value, the answer to the initial question is ‘Yes’. However, the question was based on a ranking of importance and was not ‘either/or’. Those that prioritise creativity in schools are unlikely to be calling for a total absence of discipline; and those prioritising the basics and discipline are unlikely to be calling for a ban on independent thought. To infer anything different from the outcomes of the research is a bit of a stretch.

Whether it’s what we see in the ‘strictest school in Britain’ as reported in The Guardian, Michaela Community School in Brent, or in the ‘democratic’ schooling of Summerhill boarding school in Suffolk, most people would say that some discipline is essential for learning to flourish. The real question should perhaps be: which do you think should be prioritised in the UK education system, creativity, or discipline and basic academic skill?

For the full research see here: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/28/4-charts-on-how-people-around-the-world-see-education/

The deadline for working parents to claim their 30 hours funded childcare is looming and is with us on Thursday 31st August.

The deadline for working parents to claim their 30 hours funded childcare is looming and is with us on Thursday 31st August.

From Friday 1st September working parents in England will be entitled to an additional 15 hours of childcare on top of the current 15 universal hours.

With reports suggesting that there are still thousands of places for the 30 hours that have still not been claimed, arguably, the scheme could have an unsteady start. With the deadline on our doorstep we look back on what’s been said so far.

In July 2017, the DfE published their evaluation report on the outcomes experienced by the eight local authorities that were chosen in September 2016 as early implementers and who began the delivery to around 5,000 children. The report concluded that were no specific reasons why 30 hours free childcare would not be a success, with a high proportion of providers willing and able to deliver the extended hours without financial implications being a substantial barrier. The report also suggested that parents where keen to take up the extended hours. However, 55% of those parents who claimed the extended hours, across the eight early implementer authorities, reported additional charges (compared to 14% of providers reporting they asked or extra money).

Another key recommendation from the evaluation was the need for local authorities to positively promote the offer. However, in contrast, in summer 2017 there have been news headlines claiming the scheme is ‘doomed’ and that it ‘just can’t work.’ These headlines, in part, have followed a survey undertaken by the Free School Alliance in early 2017, that concluded half of the (approximately) 1,500 daycare providers who responded to their survey believed there was ‘a risk they could close as a result of the 30 hours childcare scheme’.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance reacted to a report, by Child Poverty Action Group, on the cost of raising a child, by saying; “indeed, parents may well find themselves out of pocket as a result of the 30 hours scheme, as childcare providers are forced to increase costs elsewhere to make up the shortfall in government funding of the offer.” https://www.pre-school.org.uk/news/2017/08/cost-raising-child-rises-faster-funding-levels

Finally, the website that parents need to access to register to access the 30 hours offer has evidently experienced technical problems. Nicky Morgan chairman of the Treasury select committee, has written to HMRC, sharing her concerns over the delays and demanded answers and it has since been confirmed that a compensation scheme has been set up for parents who were unable to apply due to technical glitches.

At (Coda Consultants/PEY) we have worked with a number of local authorities to help support them in the planning stages of the 30 hour delivery, and have a comprehensive understanding of both the concerns but also the excitement around the delivery of scheme. We wish you all luck, both parents and providers, in the smooth delivery in September and will be ready to support early evaluations when needed.

 

 

 

The introduction of the SEN inclusion fund

The introduction of the SEN inclusion fund

The DfE will require all local authorities to set up a local SEN inclusion fund from April 2017.

The DfE has recognised that the current early years funding system ‘does not serve the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities consistently’.

The two key proposals from the DfE are for the Disability Access Fund (DAF) and the local SEN Inclusion fund.

“This will entail pooling funding from their early years and/or high needs funding blocks to spend on support for children with “lower level or emerging” SEN. The DfE expects local authorities to use this funding to top up provider funding on a case-by-case basis.” (www.pre-school.co.uk EY guide)

The funding is intended to make it easier for providers to access funding for children with SEND.

In February 2017 the Council for Disabled Children reported: “A research report to the DfE in 2015 highlighted an early years inclusion fund that had been established in York. York evaluated their fund and showed that young children were being identified earlier, being referred for earlier assessment and advice; children were more likely to stay in their own local early years setting; careful tracking of progress showed improvements in progress and better outcomes for children; and more comprehensive information smoothed transition into school. Support services played an important part in recommending interventions and identifying approaches to maximise children’s learning and development. The DfE SEN inclusion fund appears to be modelled on the York approach.

Local authorities will be required to consult widely, and to publish a range of information about the SEN inclusion fund in their local offer.

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/580716/EYNFF_Operational_Guidance.pdf

General Election 2017 – what the manifestos say on early years

As we head towards the General Election, we have compiled summaries of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and UKIP policies and plans in relation to early years provision and child welfare as set out in the full General Election manifestos.

View the summary of policies and plans in relation to early years provision and child welfare

Coda specialises in supporting the planning and delivery of services for children, young people and their families. We work in association with Premier Early Years, an organisation which helps new and established schools develop on-site early years childcare provision.

Please get in touch to find out more about the services we offer.

Introduction of 30 hours free childcare could mean shortage of places

Introduction of 30 hours free childcare could mean shortage of places

According to the Guardian, when the amount of free childcare which is offered to pre-schoolers aged 3-4 is doubled, which is due to be introduced in September, “more than half of councils in England are unsure if there will be enough places when change is introduced”.*

Research published by the Family and Childcare Trust in February 2017 concluded that “only a third (33%) said that there would be sufficient places in their area, 54% said they did not know if they would have enough childcare available for children using the 30 hours, while a further 13% said there would not be enough”.

It also found that “a clear majority of local authorities expect some settings not to offer the 30-hour entitlement – 67% said they thought some childcare providers in their area would not”, which may suggest that they believed these childcare providers would not consider offering the entitlement as making financial sense to their setting.

Councils highlighted their concern regarding the effects of the reform on childminders and nurseries “with 44% stating there could be ‘reduced financial sustainability’ of childcare providers”.

Coda Consultants have already helped a number of local authorities plan for this reform by researching and analysing sufficiency of childcare, as part of their Childcare Sufficiency Assessment – and in particular for the capacity for the new 30 hours of free childcare. This includes using our expertise to assess childcare markets through consulting with local childcare providers and parents/carers about their views on the entitlement and how this will affect local settings.

*Source: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/feb/08/introduction-of-30-hours-free-childcare-could-mean-shortage-of-places (8th February)

Nursery school places in England under threat

Research for an all-party parliamentary group has concluded that one in ten nursery schools in England face closure ‘within months’.

There are only 400 maintained nursery schools in the country, which are run by local authorities. Nursery schools tend to lead the way in terms of Ofsted outcomes. 97% are currently rated either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.

The research has found that at least 45 of the 400 believe they will be forced to close by July 2017. Additionally, almost two-thirds of nursery schools told researchers that they will be unsustainable once transitional funding provided by the government to ease the crisis finishes at the end of this parliament.

There is also a fear that closures may happen as local authorities look for savings to meet the government’s new early years funding formula – which comes into force in April to support the pending 30-hour free childcare offer to working parents.

On the positive side, the government has found an additional £56m in transitional funding for the next three years to try to ease the possible crisis. It is also carrying out a consultation to try to find a longer-term solution to funding.

Goodbye Children’s Centre, hello ‘Family Hub’

 

The future role of Children’s Centres is set to be the subject of a government consultation this autumn, after a delay of nearly a year. According to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, the government should consider widening the remit of Children’s Centres in to designated family hubs.

In the new report, Changing the odds for children in need, they recommended that Children’s Centres should have a wider role in co-ordinating services for vulnerable children and families. Their report states: “The government has yet to make an announcement on the future direction of Children’s Centres, which, if developed along the right lines, have the potential to champion a new approach to supporting children in need with a strengthened focus on the whole family.”

The primary aim of such hubs would be to co-ordinate support for parents, children and families, including early help and preventative work.

The report also argues that “children and family hubs offer the best approach to support children who are in need of services but do not meet the threshold of being at risk of harm… Their introduction is a clear next step to co-ordinate existing services and support, thereby creating better information-sharing networks, ensuring that children and families no longer go missing between services”.

Childcare as a boost to employment

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the Chancellor to spend another £2 billion per year on childcare, including to help to get more women into work.

The CBI believes that the government could boost female employment by around 2% – equivalent to almost 300,000 extra jobs – through a continued focus on the issue of supporting mothers with accessing suitable childcare.

The CBI believe that: “the move would almost pay for itself because of the extra taxes paid by those workers…”.

The organisation also proposes extending the free entitlement: “Offering free childcare for all one to four-year-olds and extending statutory parental pay to 52 weeks could boost female employment by around that 2% mark.