The Department for Education has released its latest statistics reporting on government-funded early education and childcare (early years provision) for children aged 2 to 4 years in England.
Headline facts and figures – 2023
In 2023, the number of children registered for the 15-hour entitlements was at the lowest point in each series, whilst conversely, the number registered for the 30-hour entitlement was at the highest point in the series.
- The take-up rate of 3 and 4-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement needs to be treated with caution and likely underestimates the true rate by up to 5 percentage points (see section ‘About these statistics’).
- Taking this into account, despite the falls in children registered for the 15-hour entitlements, the associated take-up rates in 2023 have increased because of larger decreases in the relevant populations (particularly for eligible 2-year-olds).
- The fall in the number of private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers delivering the 15-hour entitlements was driven by a fall in the number of private or voluntary providers and childminders.
Jonathan Broadbery, Director of Policy of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “It’s heartening to see that take-up of funded places is up again after the pandemic because we know that access to early education and care can make a real difference to children’s outcomes all through their education. However, the take-up among children from disadvantaged backgrounds for two-year-old places is still lower than other groups. This is a concern because these are the children who have the most to gain from early education.
“Despite the challenges of rising costs, chronic underfunding and a workforce crisis, private, voluntary and independent nurseries are the most significant group of providers for the government-funded places. These deliver 80% of eligible two-year-old places and 70% of the 30-hour places and without their input, this policy would fail. The Government must support them to be sustainable and be able to deliver additional places from April 2024 once all two-year-olds of working parents can apply for a 15-hour place.”
The latest statistics in full can be found on the government website here.