Since 2019, DfE has worked with local authorities to improve data quality relating to provider type. Caution should therefore be taken when comparing changes before and after this data cleaning exercise. Further information can be found in the Data Quality section of the methodology.
When a child splits their entitlement across more than one provider, the provider where they spend the majority of their time is counted.
Most eligible two-year-olds continue to access their entitlements in private, voluntary and independent (PVI) settings (including childminders).
The proportion accessing their entitlements in maintained schools (nursery, primary, secondary or special schools) has gradually increased from 3% in 2014 to 14% in 2021. This is likely to be due to two factors: the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act (2015), which made it easier for schools to extend their provision to two-year-olds; and clearer guidance for local authorities on whether children should be returned on the early years (PVI) or school census.
Three and four-year olds funded early education
Two thirds of three-year-olds accessed their funded early education in PVI settings (including childminders) in 2021. This has increased over the past four years, mainly due to an increase in children attending childminders.
Two thirds of four-year-olds are registered in infant classes in primary schools (i.e. reception classes). An additional 15% were registered at other maintained school settings. This has not changed from 2020.
Three- and four-year-olds extended early education
Approximately four in every five children using extended entitlements access these hours in PVI settings (including childminders).
The proportion provided at maintained schools has increased very slightly since its introduction in 2018 from 18% to 21%.
The evaluation of the national rollout of 30-hours free childcare suggested in 2018 that schools offered the first 15 funded hours, whilst PVIs tended to provide the extended hours as wraparound care. The small changes since 2018 suggest that schools are continuing to extend their provision to include the extended entitlement hours.