Early years groups criticise plans to promote school-based childcare

By Derren Hayes

| 23 March 2015

Government moves to make schools publish details of their own childcare provision alongside their academic results will disadvantage other nursery providers, early years groups have said.

Parents should be aware of all local childcare options, early years groups say. Image: Pre-school Learning Alliance

The decision will require schools to publish information about what childcare is on offer in primary and secondary schools, ranging from full-time nurseries to holiday and after-school provision, alongside their academic performance tables.

The Department for Education says the move will “support parents to make the best childcare decisions for their families” and help them access the 15-hours a week of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds.

But early years groups say it is an attempt to prioritise school-based early education over that provided by the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “The DfE has made its desire for a school-led early years system very clear, and this would appear to be yet another initiative aimed at promoting school-based childcare provision over and above the PVI sector.
 
“It is vital that parents are well-informed about all types of early years provision, and so we hope that the government will also be looking at how they can use existing communications channels, such as family information services, to ensure parents are aware of all the available childcare options in their local area.”

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “Parents want and need to know about the full range of childcare options available to them locally, including schools, nurseries and childminders.

“Under the Childcare Act, local authorities have a duty to provide information about all types of childcare providers.

“The DfE is currently tendering for a one-stop-shop website and app which will list all childcare options for parents. Publication of these performance tables should go hand in hand with this app so that there is a full range of information available to parents, rather than schools being prioritised.”

Tanuku added that NDNA’s member survey showed that 43 per cent of PVI nurseries were working in partnership with schools to provide out-of-school clubs.

Schools' childcare information will be gathered by the DfE and included in performance tables from next year.
 
Childcare minister Sam Gyimah said: “Getting the right childcare is one of the most important decisions any parents make – we want to make it easier for families to find and access as many high-quality options as simply as possible.
 
“A lot of schools are offering this valuable support, but parents shouldn’t have to click through seven pages of a website to find out about it.
 
“I want to save parents from that headache and help to put them in touch with the right provider for their family.”
 
The DfE also announced that it is to increase the number of early years trainees recruited through the Teach First programme from 38 to 82 in 2015/16.

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