The BBC is reporting new figures from Ofsted that show a long-term fall in childcare places available in England appears to have reversed in the five months to August 2014…
But there are still almost 8,000 fewer places than in Autumn 2013, largely lost from childminders.
The government says the new figures suggest the sector is now “thriving”.
But the Pre-School Learning Alliance said that the recent upturn in places came “nowhere near” to off-setting the previous fall.
The latest Ofsted figures show there were 1,292,554 childcare places available in England at the end of August this year, run by 76,131 providers.
Of these providers some 50,416 were childminders, with 263,129 places.
Earlier figures for then end of March this year show 1,291,116 places, with 77,509 providers. Some 51,789 of the providers were childminders, with 265,366 places.
That amounts to 1,428 more childcare places available in August than in March, despite a fall in the number of providers.
The government says parents now have more access to high quality childcare provision…
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said he was particularly concerned about the continuing fall in the number of childminders who are often more flexible than nurseries and provide the after-school pick-ups crucial to many working parents.
“Childminders play a crucial role in the provision of high-quality, flexible early education and care in this country, and yet all too often they are unfairly overlooked and dismissed by both government and Ofsted.”
Mr Leitch said childminders were leaving the sector because of the decline in support from local authorities and the “ongoing” lack of adequate funding for children entitled to free childcare…
So it look like we are seeing a shift in the nature of early years provision with fewer places from childminders (and we have fewer childminders full stop) but additional places from nurseries. The government seems to think this means a rise in quality but Neil Leitch argues it it results in less flexibility for parents. What impact do you think such a shift might have? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
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