DfE pulse survey of childcare and early years providers published

The Department for Education (DfE) have today published their latest findings from a Pulse survey of childcare and early years providers which was carried out in November 2023.  

This latest piece of research, the seventh in a series of surveys conducted since the summer of 2020 asked a sample of GBPs (group based providers), SBPs (school-based providers), and childminders (CMs) in England via a 10-20 minute web survey.

A total of eight key topics were covered including questions relating to the early years’ workforce, funding, capacity, and staff:child ratios. Additional questions regarding space requirements, experiences of looking after children with SEND, initial teacher training and experiences of childminders were also included.

The recent survey findings:

  • Over half of PVI nurseries and pre-schools still don’t believe their income is covering their costs (53%). This has improved since the previously published figures in Nov 2023 when it was 58%
  • There’s still uncertainty with 43% of PVIs, 51% of schools and 25% of Childminders not knowing if planned funding rates for the expansion will improve their profitability.
  • PVI nurseries and pre-schools have a higher staff turnover (22%) than school based providers (12.5%)
  • They are also more likely to have 3 or more vacancies (11% of PVIs) than schools (3%)
  • 36% of school based providers and 34% of PVI providers said they had had to turn a child away or reduce their hours due to SEND
  • Insufficient funding rates and a lack of staff were commonly reported reasons for why providers may have to turn away children with SEND

Responding to the findings Jonathan Broadbery, Director of Policy and Communications at National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “The DfE’s own findings are echoing what we reported on earlier this year. Providers are still struggling to get enough income to remain sustainable and there are real challenges in expanding places to meet the Government’s offer to parents.

“Over half of nurseries and pre-schools told the DfE that income is not covering their costs and their staff turnover is still above 20% which is unsustainable. Where providers were worried about funding rates over three quarters said that the rates for three and four year-olds was the problem. This is the area we have called on the Government to review because these rates are increasing at a much lower rate than staffing costs.

“The study also shows there is more to do on staffing challenges as this was the number one challenge for nurseries and preschools in limiting their ability to offer more places. The fact that almost half said they would not have the finances to be able to expand premises shows that the Government also needs to do more on capital funding.

“There are a lot of positive plans in place to try and help the sector, but there isn’t one silver bullet. To help deliver the extra 70,000 places and 40,000 staff the sector needs more support. Addressing underfunding for three and four-year olds, supporting expansion through capital funding and having a long term workforce plan must be a priority. Ministers should also give business rates relief to all early years settings to help them financially and remove a deterrent to expanding.”

  • England

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