The department is still in the first year of national delivery of 30 hours free childcare which rolled out in September 2017. 294,000 children benefited from a 30 hours place in the spring term which, representing 89% of those who received an eligibility code.
The independent evaluation of our early rollout areas showed that 83% of providers who were delivering the existing entitlements were willing and able to deliver 30 hours free childcare. According to the termly statistics published by Ofsted in March 2018, the number of places offered by providers on the Early Years Register (EYR) has remained stable at approximately 1.3 million since 31 August 2017. The number of places offered by non-domestic providers has increased slightly, while the number of childminder places has fallen slightly. The department will continue to monitor childcare provision going forward, via the Ofsted statistics and engagement with the profession.
The quality of childcare has remained stable with 94% of providers on the EYR judged to be good or outstanding as at 31 December 2017 – the highest ever percentage.
The independent evaluation reports of the early implementation and early rollout of 30 hours free childcare found no substantial adverse impact on the existing free entitlements. The department’s delivery support contractor, Childcare Works, has been working with providers and local authorities to promote the continued importance of the existing entitlements within the wider 30 hours free childcare delivery context.
Data will be collected on the proportion of staff qualifications in early years settings available in the annual Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers later in the year. In addition, the department is further enhancing its analytical programme to collect detailed research on childcare costs.
The department has commissioned an independent evaluation of the first year of national delivery of 30 hours, which will report findings in the summer. The evidence from this report will be used to inform future delivery.