You are here: News Response to Labour's announcement on childcare expansion in schools

In response to Labour's announcement to expand childcare places by repurposing classrooms in primary schools, Lydia Hodges, Head of Coram Family and Childcare, said:

Labour’s plan to create 100,000 new nursery places is a welcome step in reforming our childcare system, and would help address the childcare shortages we see across the country.

Our 2024 annual Childcare Survey saw sharp drops in the availability of childcare places, continuing an existing trend. Only a third of councils say they have enough childcare for parents working full-time and for children under two and the majority, nearly 90%, told us they were not confident their area would have enough places to meet the planned September 2025 expansion of funded childcare entitlements.

We need further detail to understand how this policy would address this shortfall and how it will be targeted to the areas in most need. For example, only 16% of local authorities told us they have enough childcare for families in rural areas, and less than 10% for parents who don’t work typical hours – like a midwife or a police officer.

While there are some areas in England with falling birth rates and extra spaces in primary schools, other schools are full and would find it more difficult to open their doors to younger children. Where childcare is already provided in schools, these tend to have shorter opening hours and are less likely to be open during school holidays which does not fit with the working patterns of most parents.

These parents often rely on additional childcare from childminders whose numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years. Any new proposal must consider the sector as a whole and include the vital role played by our existing nurseries and childminders.

Alongside any plans to expand childcare places, we also need a workforce strategy. Delivering the suggested number of places, particularly to children as young as nine months, requires skilled and experienced early years staff. The sector has a recruitment and retention crisis so a properly funded workforce strategy, developed in partnership with the sector, will be crucial to success.

Any increase in provision must also be set up to meet the needs of children with disabilities, who are currently most likely to miss out on early education with only 6% of local authorities having enough childcare for those children.

We are pleased to see childcare at the forefront and call on all parties to commit to reform of our childcare system so all children can access the early education they need to thrive, and all parents can make meaningful choices about work and care.

For more information, please contact Emma Lamberton, Communications Manager, Coram at / 0207 520 0427 / 07908 827908. For our latest research on childcare availability, costs and barriers to successful delivery of the expansion of funded childcare, see our Childcare Survey 2024.

About Coram Family and Childcare

Coram Family and Childcare works to make the UK a better place for families by bringing together what we learn from our on the ground parent-led programmes and our research to campaign for solutions that parents want and need. We focus on childcare and early years to make a difference to families’ lives now and in the long term.