Reporting Year 2020

Education provision: children under 5 years of age

Published

This data contains the latest information up to January 2020 on the provision of funded early education for children under 5 in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors in England. The data was collected from schools, maintained nurseries, local authorities and private, voluntary and independent providers, including childminders (PVIs) in January 2020 as part of the early years census and spring school censuses.

 


Headline facts and figures - 2020

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Numbers benefiting from funded early education

See the Methodology section for information on eligibility for funded early education.

Throughout the statistics publication, the first 15 hours of funded early education for 3- and 4-year-olds (the universal entitlement) is referred to as ‘funded early education’ and the additional 15 hours available to working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds is referred to as ‘extended funded early education’. 

Number of eligible 2-year-olds

In January 2020, 69% of eligible 2-year-olds benefited from some funded early education, up from 68% in 2019. The number of children benefiting decreased from 148,800 in 2019 to 143,400 in 2020.

Number of 3- and 4-year-olds

In January 2020, 93% of 3- and 4-year-olds benefited from some funded early education, the same as last year. However, the number decreased by 5,600 from January 2019 to 1,271,500. 

91% of 3-year-olds and 94% of the 4-year-olds benefited from some funded early education, each showing little change from January 2019. 

Numbers benefiting from extended early education

See the Methodology section for information on eligibility for extended early education.

Throughout the statistics publication, the first 15 hours of funded early education for 3- and 4-year-olds (the universal entitlement) is referred to as ‘funded early education’ and the additional 15 hours available to working parents of 3- and 4-year-olds is referred to as ‘extended funded early education’. 

In January 2020, 345,700 3- and 4-year-olds benefited from some extended early education, an increase of 5% since 2019. We would expect to see variation across years as the number of eligible children will change depending on the birth cohort and parental employment. 

Estimates suggest around 430,000 children were eligible for the extended hours nationally, meaning around 4 out of 5 eligible children have taken up some extended hours. Further information on the eligibility estimate can be found in the methodology section. 

Provider types

Funded early education for 2-year-olds by provider type

  • The proportion of 2-year-olds accessing their free entitlement in maintained schools (nursery, primary, secondary and special schools) has increased from a very low base since data was first collected in 2014 whilst the percentage in private, voluntary and independent providers (PVIs) has decreased. 
  • Two factors are likely to have contributed to this increase in the maintained sector; the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act coming into force in 2015 and clearer guidance for local authorities on whether children should be returned on the early years or school census. Further information can be found in the methodology section.

Funded early education for 3-and 4-year-olds by provider type

  • The majority of 3-year-olds access their funded early education in PVIs. The proportion attending maintained schools has decreased slightly over the last 5 years.  
  • The proportional split of 4-year-olds across provider types has remained broadly similar in recent years with the majority accessing their funded early education in infant classes in primary schools (i.e. reception classes). 

Extended early education for 3- and 4-year-olds by provider type

  • Whilst the majority of extended early education was accessed at PVIs, the proportion provided at maintained schools has increased since its introduction in 2018 from 18% to 21%. 
  • Evidence [1] suggested that in the first year of the extended entitlement, schools were offering the first 15 funded hours and private, voluntary and independent providers were providing the extended entitlement as wraparound care. The increase from 20% to 21% seen this year suggests schools are continuing to extend their provision to include the extended entitlement.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/30-hours-free-childcare-final-evaluation-of-the-national-rollout

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/childcare-and-early-years-providers-survey-2018

Number of providers

Data cleaning exercise for provider types

During the 2019 data collection period, DfE undertook a data cleaning exercise to improve data quality working with local authorities to re-code providers to the correct provider type. Caution should therefore be taken when comparing changes in provider types between 2019 and earlier years. Further information can be found in the  methodology section.

When a child splits their entitlement over more than one provider, the provider where they spend the majority of their time is counted. As childminders often provide wrap-around care, the count of childminders is under-reported by this methodology. Further information is available in the methodology section. 

  • 22,500 providers delivered funded early education to 2-year-olds in 2020, a small decrease from 22,600 in 2019.
  • 48,500 providers delivered funded early education to 3- and 4-year-olds in January 2020, up 1% from 2019.
  • 36,900 providers delivered extended funded early education to 3- and 4-year-olds, up 3% from 2019.
  • In January 2020, 97% of 2-year-olds and 92% of 3- and 4-year-olds benefiting from some funded early education attended a provider with a good or outstanding Ofsted rating. The comparable figure for 3- and 4-year-olds benefiting from extended early education was 96%

Staff qualifications

See the Methodology section for further information on staff qualifications.

Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) providers with staff with graduate status.

  • The number of PVI providers with staff with graduate status are very similar when comparing delivery of the funded early entitlement and the extended entitlement.
  • Childminders tend to have low levels of staff with graduate qualifications whereas Independent schools and State Funded Governor run settings tend to have higher levels of staff with graduate qualifications.

Highest qualification of early years staff in Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) providers

  • 63% of staff in PVIs have a full and relevant EY Level 3 qualification. This has remained stable since 2018.
  • The number of staff in PVIs with graduate status has risen by 2%.  23,100 early years staff have graduate status compared to 22,500 in 2019.

PVI providers delivering funded education

  • 37% of PVI providers delivering funded education have staff with graduate status, up 1% from 2019.
  • 53% of children benefited from funded education at providers with staff with graduate status, up 1% from 2019.

PVI providers delivering extended funded education

  • 36% of PVI providers delivering extended funded education have staff with graduate status, up 1% from 2019.
  • 54% of children benefited from extended funded education at providers with staff with graduate status, up 2% from 2019.

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

National statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

If you have a specific enquiry about Education provision: children under 5 years of age statistics and data:

Early Years Statistics Team

Email
EarlyYears.STATISTICS@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Jessica Vickerstaff
01325 792592

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