The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for increasing the number of childcare staff by September to meet additional demand resulting from the implementation of the 30 hours free childcare a week for three- and four-year-olds.
Lord Nash: The number of places, and therefore staff, required to deliver 30 hours will depend on a variety of factors, including existing take up of additional childcare outside the current free entitlement. Many working families with three-and four-year olds already use more than 15 hours of childcare so many of the required childcare places already exist. There is also existing spare capacity in the system to help deliver the new entitlement.
Local authorities continue to be required to secure sufficient childcare, and therefore staff to fulfil those places in line with ratio requirements, as far as is reasonably practicable, for working parents or parents who are studying or training for employment, for children aged 0-14 (or up to 18 for disabled children).
In March, the Department published an early years workforce strategy, which set out a number of measures to support the sector to recruit, retain and develop staff. This included announcing that to support recruitment, from 3 April 2017 the English and maths qualification requirements for level 3 Early Years Educators would be broadened out to include other suitable level 2 qualifications, including functional skills.
We continue to support growth and the creation of new places to deliver the 30 hours funded entitlement. In 2016, we ran a £50 million early years capital bid round, for which local authorities, in partnership with providers, were invited to submit bids. This investment will create almost 9,000 additional places for eligible children to help meet demand. We are now going even further, making additional investment through the same capital bid round that will support even more providers to deliver 30 hours.