Today school leaders’ union NAHT publishes “An Early Years Place for All: The NAHT Childcare Bill Report”, which examines the challenges and opportunities posed by government proposals to increase the provision of free childcare to 30 hours per week.
Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary said: “We support the aspiration to offer extra free childcare to working families and we believe the plan can work but the government now needs to keep to the commitments it has made about looking at funding and consulting with providers – otherwise some families could lose out.
“Many of our members have been telling us for some time that they are running their nurseries at a loss, subsidising them from their regular budget at a level that is not sustainable in the long term. The government has to work with us to make sure that the policy becomes one that schools can actually deliver.”
The report finds that four out of five school leaders were already dipping into their mainstream budgets to subsidise the free places they offer. Two thirds believe that increasing the provision of free childcare to 30 hours per week could mean they will end up reducing the total number of children they can take.
Only 15 per cent of school-based Early Years providers believed increasing the number of free childcare hours was sustainable under the current plans, the report reveals.
Despite the challenges, many respondents to the survey said that with the right capital funding, the free childcare pledge could be delivered. With that in mind, the report makes four key recommendations to the Department for Education:
- To develop a national fair funding formula for nursery education
- To work with the sector to understand the issue of capacity and consider how to make sure that there is enough provision to meet demand
- To understand that the provision of capital funding is key to the success of this policy
- To consider that schools will need time to implement the policy, particularly if it means that they will have to reduce the number of children that they currently support
Mr Hobby continued: “NAHT has repeatedly championed the importance of Early Years care. Now we need to see proper planning and funding so that this policy doesn’t fall short of its excellent intentions. Taking the first steps into a school environment is the most important stage of a child’s education.”
NAHT’s believes that the profession should lead the way in developing and sharing best practise in the Early Years sector and is running a series of upcoming courses available to members.
Page Published: 07/09/2015