To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made a quantitative assessment of trends in the level of closure of (a) nurseries and (b) early year settings in (i) 2020 and (ii) 2021.
3 March 2022
The department continues to monitor the sufficiency of childcare places in England through regular surveys and engagement with early years providers and local authorities. Local authorities are not currently reporting any imminent sufficiency issues and we have not seen a substantial number of parents unable to secure a childcare place, either this term or since early years settings reopened fully on 1 June 2020.
According to findings from the 2021 childcare and early years providers survey, 7 in 10 group-based providers reported having spare places in their full-day provision and almost half of childminders (49%) reported having spare capacity on average across the week.
There were an estimated 62,000 providers with at least one child aged 0 to 4 years old registered in England in spring 2021, including 21,300 group-based providers, 9,500 school-based providers and 31,200 registered childminders. These providers were offering over 1.5 million Ofsted-registered childcare places. Comparable estimates from 2019 show there were 66,000 providers made up of 21,900 group-based providers, 8,900 school-based providers and 35,100 childminders. The drop in the number of providers between 2019 and 2021 is largely driven by a reduction in the estimated number of childminders. The number of group-based and school-based providers was more stable between these two years. There is no comparable data for 2020 because the 2020 childcare and early years providers survey was postponed due to COVID-19.
Ofsted data on movement in the childcare sector shows that there was minimal change in the number of childminders and childcare providers on non-domestic premises (group-based providers) between 31 March 2020 and 31 August 2020. Data from the same period in 2021 shows there was a reduction in the number of childminders from 33,004 on 31 March to 31,957 on 31 August. The reduction in the number of childminders continues a downward trend, with 14,100 (31%) fewer providers than on 31 August 2015. The number of group-based providers remained broadly stable across the two years.
In addition to our regular statistical collections, during 2020, the department also carried out three waves of the survey of childcare and early years providers and COVID-19. In all three waves, the majority of providers reported being open at the time of the survey with a small minority being temporarily or permanently closed.