Government responds to EYFS consultation and announces capital funding for expansion

The Government has today given its response to the measures proposed in the EYFS consultation, most of which will go ahead but some will be scrapped or delayed.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan also announced three areas of investment:

  • £180m Childcare Choices website updated to give parents personalised information about the new support they can claim  
  • £100m capital funding for local authorities to support providers’ building and expansion projects   
  • £289m to support wraparound programme to increase availability of childcare for working parents at both ends of the school day   

NDNA has asked for childcare providers to have the parent updates so they know what parents are being told and can prepare for their inquiries.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “NDNA called for capital funding to be made available on the back of evidence from our members that 72% needed to physically expand in order to offer more places to one and two-year-olds.

“We now need to ensure this money is passed to those providers who are actually working with the youngest children where the expansion in places is planned. Local authorities must make sure this money is available to all types of provider in their local area and don’t duplicate existing high quality provision.

“There are still a lot of challenges for providers to be able to access this support and undertake any works as the expansion starts next April. A big concern will also be business rates which can deter investment in early years settings as it drives up day-to-day running costs.

“Parents and providers need to have clear information about what is on offer, the eligibility criteria and when registration will be possible. Providers need clarity on this policy so they are able to plan for new places. The biggest challenge to this policy is underfunding, especially for three and four-year old places, as well as staffing.”

For the EYFS proposals, the Government will:

  • Split the EYFS into separate documents for childminders and group-based providers
  • Remove the requirement for Level 3 staff to have Level 2 maths in order to be counted in ratios but managers of a setting will still need Level 2 maths
  • Allow students and apprentices who are sufficiently knowledgeable to be counted in ratios down to judgement of manager
  • Remove requirement to have to make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the home language of EAL children in the nursery – instead it will say “may” make reasonable efforts
  • Keep the requirement for 50% of staff to be level 2 qualified
  • Not make a change for ratio requirements to be during core hours only
  • Consider in the future the proposal that only qualified teachers (eg not level 6 qualified degree level practitioners) will be able to work with 13 children who are three and four-years-old
  • Consider the “experienced-based” route for those with similar qualifications working in the care sector for example to have their Level 3 qualifications count as a childcare qualification

A new EYFS will be published in January containing the new detail, this will be implemented in January subject to parliamentary approval to be ready for April 2024.

“As the EYFS will be changing ahead of April, providers need to have as much information as possible to be ready for those changes.

“NDNA’s own submission to the EYFS consultation was based on feedback from our members in a series of events. We are happy that the Government has listened to sector concerns about the impact the changes on staffing could have on long term efforts to improve quality, but has also considered measures they can put in place soon for those struggling to recruit and retain practitioners.

“Childcare providers say their number one concern now is staffing their nurseries, so we need plans to be brought forward for the experience-based route so those with relevant skills and qualifications can work in the sector. This route would really help providers with the workforce challenges they are facing right now.

“We welcome the changes around Level 2 maths which historically has made it difficult for some people who are potentially very good practitioners from entering or progressing in the workforce. We would urge the Government to look at evidence-based programmes like NDNA’s maths champions to train and support the workforce to ensure children develop maths understanding.”

Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, said:  “No one should have to choose between having a career and having a family, so I’m determined that every parent who wants it should have access to the childcare they need. 

“Flexibility is at the heart of our plans to transform childcare for families, whether it’s offering quality childcare out of school hours or making sure there are more early years places where they’re needed most.  

“This is the largest investment in childcare in our history, so I encourage people with young children or those thinking about starting a family to visit the Childcare Choices website to find out what they’re eligible for.”  

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