It has been revealed that £63.5m of childcare funding has been used to plug financial gaps in other areas of the education budget.
A report by the NDNA found that 74% of councils are redirecting these funds to alternative areas of their education budget – which were previously ear marked for childcare funding.
The published figures (under the Freedom of Information act) show that 95 councils across 130 local education authorities (LEAs) in England were guilty of “shortchanging children ad leaving providers out of pocket”. The NDNA suggests that the underspend total is likely to be higher as 21 councils did not respond to its FOI request.
The top 10 LEAs with the highest underspends were disclosed as:
Surrey – £5.15m
Birmingham – £2.67m
Hertfordshire – £2.5m
Norfolk – £2.27m
Islington – £1.99m
Sussex – £1.84m
Leeds – £1.82m
Essex – £1.8m
Lincolnshire – £1.71
Nottinghamshire – £1.67m
Within these councils’ underspend figures, almost half kept the money in their reserves, totalling £18.8m and 10 councils used the money to balance the books with overspending in their high needs block for children and young adults with SEND.
Chief Executive of NDNA Purnima Tanuku said; “Our analysis shows an alarming discrepancy in the way that early years funding for three- and four-year-olds is being used and how much is not reaching providers across the country. We have unravelled the true scale of the disastrous funding system which, if not addressed urgently by the Department for Education, will create a further crisis within early years.
“We know that council budgets are stretched to capacity, especially around High Needs and SEND support – but this robbing Peter to pay Paul approach is recklessly short-sighted. It damages the quality of care children and families receive.”
In the lead up to National Apprenticeship week (3-7 February), a study has revealed that in the past 20 years, the number of teenagers working has almost halved, with many choosing to prioritise study over part-time work.
The recent Resolution Foundation study also found that within the same time period, the number of people who have never worked has grown by 52%.
It found that a quarter of 16 and 17-year-olds were in work between 2017 and 2019, down from just under half of the same age bracket in 1997 to 1999, although the study interestingly refers to the fact that UK unemployment reached its lowest level since 1975 in October 2019.
The report suggests that this growth in the percentage of people who have never worked is predominantly due to changes in the ‘lifecycle journey’ from education to unemployment, specifically “a reduction in ‘earning while learning’ and slower transitions from education to employment.”
The “death of the teenage Saturday job” was another factor suggested for the drop in the employment rate of students in further and higher education. To support this, it found that in the late 1990s, over half of young education leavers who had never previously worked got a paid job within the first year after leaving. That figure has now fallen to under half. It was suggested that this could be due to the fact that because today’s workforce is expected to finish their working lives at a later age than previous generations, they would begin their working lives at a later age too.
The Department for Education has reiterated its support for the early years sector after an industry leader challenged the DfE, saying nurseries are struggling due to early years settings continuing to be under-valued by the government.
Alice Bennett, owner of Worcester and Madresfield Early Years Centres challenged the government stating that nurseries across the country continue to be under-funded, with low funding levels that vary (often unfairly) from county to county.
In a statement released this week, The DfE repeated its pledge in to help the sector and stated; “We want to support early years providers in delivering high quality care and education, which is why in September the Chancellor announced extra funding to increase hourly rates for the Government’s free hours offers for 2020-21. “This means no council can receive less than £4.38 per hour for the three- and four-year-old entitlements from September 2020.”
Figures from the DfE show that more than £1m children every year are now benefitting from the Government’s investment in early years education – which will have reached £3.6 billion by next year.
Interestingly, the government promises to continue to monitor the market closely through a range of research projects which provide insight into various aspects of the childcare and provider market. Watch this space!
Performance of The Christmas Story by children at Milton Hall Montessori Nursery School in Englefield Green was well-received by many proud parents. Every child at the school dressed up and took part in the production, which included soloists, hand jives, musicians and lots of enthusiastic singing.
Children celebrated with their Christmas nativity production by telling the story of Mary and Joseph. The nativity ended with a twist – a trio singing A Million Dreams by Hennie, Cecilia and, Grace. The finale was a remarkable dance to “Santa Clause is Coming to Town”, performed by all the teachers.
Sutindar Lal says this is just another way we help to embrace and rejoice different cultures and diversity within the setting. We have received excellent feedback from parents and their relatives. The teachers are very proud of all the children here.
Kids Collective, the award-winning childcare provider that runs holiday, breakfast and after-school clubs across Cheshire visited CAFT and generously donated £1,000, alongside dozens of Christmas selection boxes for the children.
The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT) is now the focus charity for the fundraising efforts of Kids Collective. Having raised money throughout the year with the help of local families and the team, they were able to make the sizable donation to help children who need it most.
Not only did the Kids Collective team proudly present CAFT with a cheque for £1,000 and selection boxes for the children, some of the Kids Collective staff also dressed up as different characters to entertain the children at the CAFT Christmas parties.
Based in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, CAFT has been providing wonderful farm holidays and experiences for terminally ill, disabled and disadvantaged children since 1985. The Trust’s incredible work has inspired Kids Collective to continue to support the work they do and help children across the North West.
Hannah Reeves, Group Manager of Kids Collective said: “Every year, all our Clubs hold fundraising events to raise money for various local charities. Year after year, we have continued to donate to CAFT as we truly value the work they do.
“It’s so rewarding to be able to see the difference our donations make for the lives of the children who visit the Trust. I’m sure we will keep supporting this amazing work for years to come.”
To find out more about Kids Collective and the incredible facilities or to register for a place, please contact the management team directly on 0161 980 0003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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