Reporting Year 2022

Education provision: children under 5 years of age

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  1. Region names in data file "1B Percentage and number of children registered by provider type" reformatted for consistency.

  2. The following data file has been updated to correct an error in the subnational 3 and 4-year-old population estimates and take-up rates for 2021: "1B Percentage and number of children registered by provider type". National estimates and rates were not affected.

Introduction

These statistics report on government-funded early education and childcare (early years provision) for children aged 2 to 4 years in England during the week commencing 18 January 2022.

All 3 and 4-year-olds, and eligible disadvantaged 2-year-olds, are entitled to 570 hours of government-funded early years provision a year. This is typically taken as 15 hours a week, over 38 weeks of the year (though it is also possible to take fewer hours over more weeks) and is referred to in these statistics as the 15-hour entitlement. Children aged 4 taking up a place in a state-funded reception class receive their entitlement through reception class provision and as such are included in the number and percentage of children registered for the 15-hour entitlement.

Children aged 3 and 4 with eligible working parents are entitled to an additional 570 hours, taking their total entitlement to 1,140 hours a year. This is typically taken as 30 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year (though it is also possible to take fewer hours over more weeks) and is referred to in these statistics as the 30-hour entitlement. Full criteria for eligibility are outlined in the background section of the methodology note. 

Data is collected from local authorities covering state-funded schools (including nurseries), and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers (including childminders) as part of the spring school census and the early years census.  


Headline facts and figures - 2022

  • Across both the 15- and 30-hour entitlements, the falls in the numbers registered in 2021 and the subsequent rises in 2022 likely reflects the impact of COVID-19 uncertainty on providers and parents followed by some reversal as the uncertainty eased.
  • However, the increases in the numbers registered for the 15-hour entitlements in 2022 have not offset the falls in 2021.
  • The rises in the take-up rates for the 15-hour entitlements in 2022 have been driven not only by increases in the numbers registered, but also by decreases in the relevant populations (particularly for eligible 2-year-olds).
  • In 2022, both the number of 3 and 4-year-olds registered for the 30-hour entitlement and those in receipt of the early years pupil premium (EYPP) were the highest on record.

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15-hour entitlement

3 and 4-year-olds

All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to 570 hours of government-funded early years provision a year. This is typically taken as 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year (though it is also possible to take fewer hours over more weeks). This is also known as the universal entitlement and aims to support child development and school readiness. 

Children aged 4 taking up a place in a state-funded reception class receive their entitlement through reception class provision and as such are included in the number and percentage of children registered for the 15-hour entitlement.

The take-up rates for 3 and 4-year-olds are calculated based on population estimates derived from mid-year estimates and projections produced by the Office for National Statistics.

2-year-olds

2-year-olds are eligible for the 15-hour entitlement if their parents are in receipt of certain income-related benefits. 2-year-olds are also eligible for non-economic reasons including if they have an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, receive disability living allowance, are looked after by a local authority, or have left care under an adoption, special guardianship, or child arrangements order.

The number of 2-year-olds eligible for the 15-hour entitlement reported in these statistics is estimated using the number of households with 2-year-olds that are in receipt of income-related benefits but excludes children eligible for other reasons. Therefore, the true number of 2-year-olds eligible is under-estimated.  

As this estimate is used to calculate the percentage of eligible 2-year-olds registered, in turn the true percentage is over-estimated. However, the size of this over-estimate is expected to be small given that most 2-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement are recorded as meeting the eligibility criteria for economic reasons (97% in 2022).

Early years pupil premium

Children aged 3 and 4 registered for the 15-hour entitlement are eligible for early years pupil premium (EYPP) funding if their parents are in receipt of certain income-related benefits, if they are looked after by a local authority, or if they have left care under an adoption, special guardianship, or child arrangements order. 

Further detail is available in the background section of the methodology note.

In 2022, an estimated 72% of eligible 2-year-olds were registered for the 15-hour entitlement. This equals the highest previously recorded percentage in 2018. 

For 3 and 4-year-olds, 92% were registered for the 15-hour entitlement; conversely, this was the second-lowest take-up rate (the lowest being in 2021) since measurement began in 2011.

The effect of COVID-19 uncertainty on providers and parents, particularly during the lockdown period in January 2021, explains the decrease in the number of children registered for the 15-hour entitlement in 2021. Some reversal of that uncertainty explains the subsequent increase in 2022, though the number of children registered remains less than in 2020 for all ages.

These figures should also be considered alongside sizeable declines in the relevant populations. Birth rates have decreased in recent years, affecting population estimates for each age group, and this will likely have contributed to falls in the numbers registered between 2020 and 2022. 

For 2-year-olds specifically, there has been a further decrease in the eligible population as the fall in parents of 2-year-olds receiving legacy benefits which Universal Credit has replaced hasn't been offset by the rise in those receiving Universal Credit. In addition, the maximum income thresholds for the eligibility criteria have remained unchanged in recent years whilst average incomes have increased. As a result, between 2020 and 2022, the number eligible for the entitlement has decreased by a larger amount than the fall in the number registered for it, resulting in a rise in the percentage of (eligible) 2-year-olds registered.

In 2022, of the 3 and 4-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement, 116,500 (10%) were also in receipt of the early years pupil premium (EYPP). The number of children in receipt of EYPP has been steadily increasing since 2018 and the latest figure is the highest number on record since measurement began in 2016.

30-hour entitlement

3 and 4-year-olds whose parents (or the sole parent in a lone parent household) work at least 16 hours a week at national minimum wage or living wage, but earn under £100,000 per year, are entitled to an additional 570 hours of government-funded early years provision a year. This takes their total entitlement to 1,140 hours annually and is typically taken as 30 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year (though it’s also possible to take fewer hours over more weeks).

This is also known as the extended entitlement or ‘30 hours free childcare’ and aims to support working parents. Full eligibility is explained in the background section of the methodology note. 

348,100 children aged 3 and 4 were registered for the 30-hour entitlement in 2022. Based on DfE analyses of data from various surveys, this equates to an estimated 4 in 5 eligible children. For more information, see the data quality section of the methodology document. 

Apart from in 2021 (likely linked to the impact of COVID-19 uncertainty on providers and parents), the number of children registered for the 30-hour entitlement has increased each year since its introduction in September 2017. The latest figure is the highest on record.

More 3-year-olds are registered to receive the 30-hour entitlement as most 4-year-olds are already separately registered in reception classes in primary schools. 

Child characteristics

Special educational needs (SEN)

In 2022, SEN continued to be more than twice as common amongst 3 and 4-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement than the 30-hour entitlement (6.7% compared with 3.3%). 

The percentage of 2-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement who have SEN has increased from 3.1% in 2018 to 4.1% in 2022.

Ethnicity

Where ethnicity was known, a lower percentage of 3 and 4-year-olds who were ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) were registered for the 30-hour entitlement than for the 15-hour entitlement (17% compared with 27%). In comparison, 30% of 2-year-olds registered for the 15-hour entitlement were from an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities) background.

Provider types

When a child’s entitlement is split across more than one provider, the provider where they spend the most time is counted. 

Excluding 4-year-olds attending reception year in state-funded schools, across all types of entitlement, most children were registered at private, voluntary, and independent providers.

Of the 3 and 4-year-olds registered for the 30-hour entitlement, the percentage accessing it in a state-funded school (including nurseries) has increased from 18% at its introduction in 2018 to 22% in 2022.

Number of providers and Ofsted judgements

In 2022, the number of providers delivering the 15-hour entitlement to 2-year-olds rose by 1% (or 218 providers), while providers delivering the 15-hour entitlement to 3 and 4-year-olds fell by 3% (or 1,213 providers). The number delivering the 30-hour entitlement remained comparatively stable. However, the number of childminders fell across all types of entitlement, most notably by 9% (or 1,015 providers) for the 15-hour entitlement for 3 and 4-year-olds.

Of those children registered at a provider with a matched Ofsted inspection rating (91%), across all types of entitlement, over 9 in 10 children attended early years provision judged good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Early years staff qualifications

Staff qualifications data relates to private, voluntary, and independent (PVI) providers only. 

Across all PVIs, almost 1 in 10 staff delivering early years provision had a graduate level qualification. However, the proportion in independent schools and state-funded governor-run settings was far higher at just under 1 in 3 staff and 1 in 6 staff respectively.

Just over half of children registered for the 15-hour entitlement at a PVI attended a setting that employed at least one graduate member of staff. The equivalent proportion for children registered at independent schools was higher at 6 in 7 and lower for those registered at childminders at 1 in 5. 

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

Early Years Statistics Team

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EarlyYears.STATISTICS@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Kathryn Walters
0370 000 2288

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