Today’s news review looks at class sizes and our announcement of new childcare grants.
School class size
Today, Tuesday 10 January, BBC Breakfast ran an item claiming that the number of secondary school children in England being taught in classes with 36 or more pupils has trebled in the last five years.
These figures are misleading as they do not take into account the fact that the overall school population has risen. When this is taken into account, class sizes have remained stable since 2006 – and in fact, overall a bigger proportion of children are now taught in classes of under 30.
Furthermore, since 2006, the percentage of primary pupils in classes of 36 or more has actually fallen.
We have committed to invest £7billion in school places which, along with our investment in 500 new free schools, will help us deliver 600,000 new places by 2021.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
It is deliberately misleading to ignore the changes in the overall school population when considering changes in class size over time.
Despite an increase in population, class sizes in England’s schools have remained stable since 2006 – in fact overall a bigger proportion of children are now taught in classes of under 30. Since 2006, the percentage of primary pupils in classes of 36 or more has actually fallen. In secondary schools it has remained at around 0.5% since 2013.
Delivering good quality school places is a top priority for this government, and we are determined to ensure that every child has an excellent education that allows them to reach their full potential. We have committed to invest £7billion in school places which, along with our investment in 500 new free schools, will help us deliver 600,000 new places by 2021.
New childcare places
On Tuesday 10 January, we announced £50million for thousands more free childcare places to benefit working parents around the country.
More than 200 nurseries and pre-schools in 80 local authorities have received a share to help create 9,000 more 30-hour free childcare places. This money will be spent on new buildings and extensions to ensure providers are ready to roll out the offer from September 2017.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
We want Britain to be a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That means removing the barriers facing parents who are struggling to balance their jobs with the cost of childcare, and spreading the opportunities available to hard-working families across the country.
This funding, backed by our record £6billion investment in childcare per year by 2020, means we can make more free places available to more families across the country, helping us to deliver our childcare offer to thousands more children.
This investment has been welcomed by sector, with a number of stakeholders and childcare groups voicing their support:
Steve Duncan, the Headteacher of Wivilescombe Primary School, which runs The Paddocks, said:
We are absolutely thrilled to hear that we have been successful in our funding application. This will enable us to considerably re-structure the layout of the building to increase the capacity of the nursery and pre-school we have here.
We are almost full to bursting currently and would have struggled to have accommodated 30 hour provision if it wasn’t for this opportunity. We are looking forward to the challenges over the next few months and the long term benefits this will offer to the community. We would like to thank Somerset County Council who supported us in putting this bid together.
Helen Hazell, from The Olive Tree Nursery in Bridgwater, said:
We are delighted to be accepted for this fantastic opportunity. This will be great for the families of Bridgwater and we will be able to support the working parents in the surrounding areas. This will support the long term development and regeneration of Bridgwater giving families who wish to return to work access to childcare.
In the next 9 months there will be lots of hard work and challenges ahead of us, but this is something that the team at The Olive Tree Nursery are committed to. This is a great opportunity for the early year workforce as this will create opportunity for staff to develop and experience new provision.
This funding means that we will be able to continue and extend the service that The Olive Tree Nursery offers to families in Bridgwater, this will enable us to expand on the high quality care and education that we already offer.
Mr Connel Boyle, Headteacher of Neroche Primary School, said:
This news is simply fantastic for news for the Ilminster and village communities we serve. For working parents to be able to access 30 hours free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds with a Qualified Teacher at our school will be so beneficial for our community. We have planned for 5 years for this project and for it to be a reality now is so exciting!
Mrs Claire Bowditch, Early Years Leader for Neroche School, said:
I cannot wait for the opportunity for Neroche School to build our new Nursery. The learning opportunities this will allow us to provide for our community's youngest children will be amazing.
Lorraine Mitchell, Director of Tiddlywinks Nursery:
Together with Oldham council we are endeavouring to meet the needs of working families by offering the government’s 30 hours free childcare offer. Having better facilities will help us to better provide our next generation with the life skills they need, starting with outstanding childcare.
Oldham council have been very supportive of our application and fully understands what we aim to deliver for Chadderton North.
National Day Nurseries Association
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said:
The Government has recognised the important role played by private, voluntary and independent nurseries in its announcement of capital funding projects, with the largest proportion of the award money supporting this sector.
This is great news for nurseries and the thousands of families who will benefit.
PVI nurseries can offer the flexibility that working parents need, opening earlier and closing later than any other providers.
We are heartened that Ministers are announcing this capital investment in a project which is bound to be extremely popular with families across the country.
Action for Children
Sue Robb, Head of Early Years, Action for Children, said:
It is helpful that a specified proportion of this new money to create new provision or extend existing settings is ear marked for the PVI sector where there is a real need.
This money will support the roll out of the 30 hours childcare, helping parents to access a quality offer.
James Hempsall OBE, national programme director, said:
Local areas and providers have told Childcare Works of their amazing plans to develop new places to meet the demand for 30-hours.
This funding will make a tremendous difference to very many of those projects spread across the country. It is essential that places are in areas where parents need them and able to use them, be that rural areas, areas of low supply, and at times when parents are working. Again this funding is a great development to make these plans happen.
We are delighted to see the energy, creativity and positivity around 30-hours and Childcare Works are ready to work with these grant recipients and other providers to be ready for September 2017.