The Family and Childcare Trust’s report Academisation and early years education finds that primary academies are currently about as likely to achieve a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating for the childcare they provide as maintained schools. Neither is more likely to have early years provision within the school.
Almost a quarter of primary schools in England are now academies, with 72,000 children estimated to be receiving early education in primary academies. However, as an increasing number of schools convert to academies, the study raises concerns that local authorities and Regional Schools Commissioners may struggle to offer effective oversight and support (1).
The study further warns that the different freedoms, financial arrangements and levels of oversight between academies and maintained schools could result in a two-tier system, as providers face funding pressures and changes to the free early education entitlement roll out (2).
Given the scale of change ahead, it is important to pay closer attention to early education in academies.
The Family and Childcare Trust is urging the Department for Education to:
- Closely monitor early education in primary academies to make sure the quality and availability of places is not negatively affected in the future by increases in primary academies.
- Introduce a Chief Early Years Officer who will work with government to improve the quality and availability of childcare.
Contact: Mark Bou Mansour, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7940 7535 Mob: 07538 334 772
Notes to Editor:
- Regional Schools Commissioners cover large areas and these are often not coterminous with regional devolution arrangements or Ofsted regions. For instance, the Regional Commissioner for South Central England and North West London is responsible for 27 local authority (LA) areas, which have 436 primary academies plus secondary academies – this number is likely to increase as academisation continues.
- Academies have greater freedoms over procurement, curriculum and recruitment of teachers compared to schools and nurseries in the maintained sector. This means that they may follow divergent strategies in response to challenges faced by the sector over the coming years. These include funding pressures for providers and local authorities and the extension of the free early education offer.
About the Family and Childcare Trust
The Family and Childcare Trust aims to make the UK a better place for families. We are a leading national family charity in the field of policy, research and advocacy on childcare and family issues, with over 40 years’ experience. Our on-the-ground work with parents and providers informs our research and campaigns. We focus on the early years and childcare because they are crucial to boosting children’s outcomes throughout life and supporting parents to work.
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