Provider survey 2023 results – more staff leaving and more apprentices in settings

The DfE has published its annual early years provider survey which shows a fall in the numbers of providers and also in qualified staff.

Overall statistics are showing a 4% increase in early years professionals across all types of providers but this could be partly accounted for by an increase in apprentices. While more apprentices can help build a qualified future workforce, the actual number of Level 3 apprentices has fallen.

The data on SEND shows that more settings across the board now have children with additional needs attending.

The provider survey 2023 details a huge range of data including workforce, costs and fees, funding and places. Here are some of the key points for the PVI sector:

  • 21,200 group based providers ( a reduction of 700 compared to 21,900 in 2022), 9,700 school based providers (no change) and 25,300 childminders (down from 25,300 in 2022)
  • Overall this is a 5% drop in providers, 10% in childminders, 2% drop in group-based providers
  • Group based providers deliver over 1 million of the 1.56m places
  • 43% of private providers are in chains (11% of voluntary providers)
  • Each provider has an average 56 places (private) and 36 places (voluntary) – up by one place
  • 77% of private providers offer all year round care compared with 26% voluntary and 6% school
  • Private providers open for an average of 10 hours per day, 8 for voluntary and 7 for schools
  • Staff turnover rates have increased to 21% (20% in 2022) for private providers
  • 57% of staff leaving group based providers were L3 qualified

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “With the numbers of providers dropping fast but children’s places increasing, there’s more pressure on providers to offer more places in a shrinking sector. This report shows that voluntary and private providers tend to operate for longer hours and are more likely to be open all year round, so they are essential for consistent care for children and flexibility for parents.

“Staff turnover is very worrying, with more than a third of leavers finding jobs outside the education sector. Recruiting and retaining staff is the number one concern among nurseries. While it is encouraging that since the previous survey, staffing numbers have increased by 4%, it’s a concern that the numbers of Level 3 qualified staff have fallen yet again.

“Level 3 qualified staff are more likely to be leaving and although there has been a big increase in apprentices, the number of Level 3 apprentices has actually fallen. Staff qualifications and experience are vital for delivering the high-quality that is vital for improving children’s outcomes. The DfE needs to urgently produce a plan for the workforce with clear strategies targeting recruitment and retention as separate issues to address these skills shortages.

“We are worried that the qualifications data excludes apprentices and volunteers, so the proportion of qualified staff reported is not a true reflection of the facts on the ground. An increase in apprentices is good news for the future of the sector, but they need enough leaders around them to develop their practice and these qualified practitioners are the ones leaving the sector.

“We know that nurseries are struggling with high costs and tight margins. The Government is already the biggest purchaser of childcare and this will only increase as the expanded offer is rolled out. The Government has a responsibility to look at paying a fair funding rate that allows the sector to attract and retain high quality candidates in the profession. This has to be fixed as a priority in order for the expansion to work.”

  • England

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