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- With an ambition to be the best quality childcare provider in the UK, fast-growing Family First – which now has 40 nurseries – has been focusing on its team and culture. Here, we find out more …
- Willow Den, founded by Inspiring Scotland is a fully outdoor early years and childcare organisation. Chief exec, Deborah Grant explains the importance of outdoor pedagogy and her goals for Willow Den.
- Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of the early years sector in terms of wellbeing, quality provision and keeping the economy going through facilitating the work of key workers. NMT listens to insights from the Early Childhood Studies Degree Network.
- It has been a mixed year for nurseries. As a sector unable to operate remotely, Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns have been particularly challenging, resulting in difficulties and even closures for many settings. Helen Wong MBE, partner and Isabella Eacott trainee solicitor at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP look back on 2021
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A strategy for long-term recovery
Recently, society appears to be getting back to some level of normality but the impact the pandemic had on the sector will remain for months, possibly years to come.
To meet the needs of this new environment, settings all across the UK have adapted their operating and communication strategies to enable better results during unpredictable times.
However, recovery is going to be a long and bumpy road and the consequences are becoming frighteningly apparent.
The latest government figures reveal that more than 2,500 childcare settings have closed over the last six months despite a pick up in occupancy and demand for places.
The DfE’s monthly joiners and leavers in the childcare sector report highlighted that there were 74,130 childcare providers in England as of 31 December 2020.
The latest data release shows that there were 71,535 childcare providers as of 31 May this year, pointing to a loss of 2,595 childcare providers since the start of the year.
In the last month alone 270 settings closed, according to the figures including 216 childminders, seven settings operating from non-domestic premises and 47 providers operating from their own home.
Early Years Alliance chief exec, Neil Leitch, commented on the shocking statistics:
“Earlier today, we released shocking documents showing that the government has been knowingly underfunding the early years sector for years. These figures show the consequences of that shameful decision.
“With nearly 400 group providers and 2,000 childminders lost in just 11 months, how much more proof is needed that sector funding and the support the early years has received during the pandemic are both wholly inadequate?
“Every nursery, pre-school and childminder is of huge value to the community they serve, the parents they support and the children they educate. That so many quality providers have fallen by the wayside is a tragic and yet totally inevitable result of this government’s early years policy. If these figures don’t open the eyes of ministers to the need for a funding review, who knows what will.”
These statistics are even more tragic when you link that with the private government documents released by the Early Years Alliance that revealed that the government knowingly underfunded sector.
Despite numerous calls for additional financial support since the beginning of the pandemic, the government continued to leave the sector to cope on its own. The government must now take immediate steps to prevent further childcare closures and begin to recover and rebuild this essential infrastructure to our society.
Editor, Nursery Management Today