Well after 5 months of apparent analysis the Government has finally published the 30 hours consultation response. And when did they choose to do this? Well at a time when perhaps they hoped we might miss it a quarter past midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning last weekend. Although perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t bury in along with other bad news released in the wake of the US Trump victory! Alongside this a new Consultation on the L3 GCSE requirements was released and it seems that this at least is something our Early Years Minister is in favour of – it’s short, it’s had 1500 responses in the first 5 days and closes 28th November – so get your response in too.
Based on these timed releases, don’t you just know they will release the new EYFS 2016 alongside news of no more money for early years – banking on the fact that we will be distracted more by our legal requirements that our finances! I have it on good authority that the EYFS 2016 is definitely ready to go – but still no release date!
But what can we glean from the 30 hours consultation response. Well it only received a disappointing 1314 responses (how apathetic are we as a sector!!) but at least 47% (621) of these were from the PVI sector – well done on that number, and next largest with 177 were childminder – also well done. So you would hope with these numbers our voice has been influential! Or maybe not…
30 hours consultation response
- Despite the ‘issue of funding’ being raised – it seems in many, many answers – the rhetoric of ‘increased annual investment of £1billion’ is still coming out and no addressing that this is still NOT enough. In fact on page 44 they go so far as to say they ‘disagree that the funding rate will be to low’ – so they HAVE stopped listening then!
- Grace period – well still no answers there, it seems ‘more consultation’ over the details as there was ’little agreement’ in the consultation responses (but it will be put in place)
- ‘Flexibility’ seems to relate to longer hours of availability (6am-8pm) and over 52 weeks, although I would argue that flexibility could relate to the hours offered in each week (which doesn’t seem to be a concern) but with no minimum session attendance time now confirmed it’s a scary prospect for children – only softened by the fact that only 2 settings in ONE DAY can be used – but that actually means more than 2 in one WEEK can be used
- Improvement for SEND support – but nothing concrete on the table other than guidance, proposals and examples of good practice!
- Monthly payments are coming from 2018 – but you can request ‘alternative payment models’ (the Local Authorities are going to love that!)
- Model Agreement – further consultation (This is a KEY element for us – why so long for a draft!). An ‘expert working group’ is involved with this and the other areas not decided
- Clarity on consumables or additional services charges – it’s a YES from them! BUT it’s a NO to making it compulsory (so let’s see who can come up with the most duplicitous way to make charges that are seemingly NOT compulsory :)) – don’t you just love a government that sets us a challenge as to how to run a sustainable business for less income that we need to do this. I think we may need to be lobbying them a bit more on Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding Campaign – check it out if you’ve not heard about it before.
- More administration on its way as LA’s will need to update information termly – so will be requesting this from us more often
- Workforce Strategy is coming in March 2017 – just a bit late for the changes in Apprenticeships Funding that is happening in April 2017 though don’t you think? So we might get resolutions on GCSE’s but with a proposed £2500 for an Early Years apprenticeship vs £27,000 for engineering – I guess we continue to know where we stand!
And it seems in several areas ‘respondents misunderstood the government’s question’ – really! You’d have thought they would have checked the clarity of questions before sending them out – it doesn’t bode well for our negotiations in BREXIT if our government can’t even construct an understandable questionnaire for the early years sector! – or maybe they just didn’t like the answers and this was a smoke screen!
But great to see the Pre-school Learning Alliance have won a victory over the DfE on the publication of the ‘hidden numbers’ as I call them in the Childcare Costs consultation from 2015. Our thanks must go to Neil Leitch on pushing this forward and great to see it being reported widely in the press. It will be most interesting to see what this reveals.
Lastly, if you were one of the 10,056 people who signed the petition to increase the hourly rates then you may have had an invitation to join a debate on the petition for Free Childcare when both parents are working which received 120229 signatures which means it gets discussed in parliament on 21st November. There is further discussion going on through a Facebook group, so make sure you have your say. Putting all this together you can see how our 1314 responses is, in the scheme of things, just a drop in the ocean…
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk