Nurseries charging for free childcareThe Department for Education has launched an e-consultation, seeking the views of  providers of free early education and childcare, and offering you the opportunity to have your say on the planned changes.

The consultation seeks views on the Government’s specific reforms to the role of local authorities in early education and childcare. It offers respondents the opportunity to influence the secondary legislation (regulations) and statutory guidance which will implement changes to the local authority role. Their vision is presented in the e-consultation, on the DFE website:

“As with the school system, the government wants to see maximum funding passed to early years providers on the front line, along with increased autonomy, complemented by rigorous inspection arrangements.  We want Ofsted to be the sole arbiter of quality in the early years and to reduce confusion and additional bureaucracy for providers, local authorities and parents.  At a time when resources are under pressure, it does not make sense for local authorities to be conducting their own quality assessments of providers. That is Ofsted’s job.  As we announced in More great childcare, Ofsted will have a greater focus on identifying underperformance in the early years; ensuring that weaker performers are inspected more frequently and that there is greater involvement of Her Majesty’s Inspectors in inspections.

Once Ofsted has identified how providers can improve, providers should have the freedom to seek support from wherever they find most helpful.  Where the current arrangements are working well, providers can continue to take up the support they need, including training and advice, from their local authority.  Where providers have their own effective quality systems in place, such as providers in chains or for childminders registered with childminder agencies, they should not be required to also receive support from their local authority.

Ofsted data suggests that finding quality provision in disadvantaged areas can be particularly difficult for parents, yet evidence shows that children from lower income families benefit most from high quality early education. We anticipate that local authorities will continue to play an important part in supporting existing providers to improve the quality of their provision and to encourage more high quality providers to expand into these areas.”

Government proposals

The Government is proposing to make the following changes, either by introducing legislation at the earliest opportunity, or through statutory guidance  to:

a. guarantee an offer of funding for all providers of a quality assessed by Ofsted, or an inspection body approved by the Secretary of State, as ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ where there is an eligible child wanting to take up an early education place;1

b. guarantee an offer of  funding for new early education providers, which have been registered with Ofsted, prior to their first full Ofsted inspection;

c. limit the extra conditions that local authorities can place  on private, voluntary and independent (PVI) early education providers in order for them to qualify for funding to deliver places;

d. remove the existing duty on local authorities to secure information, advice and training for childcare providers, but give local authorities power to offer it; and

e. reform the early education funding system, by encouraging local authorities to simplify their funding formulae and to limit the amount of centrally retained spend.

Closing date 6th May 2013.
We’d love to hear your views too.  Tell us what you’ve told them by leaving a reply below!

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