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Demand for breakfast clubs booms, while poorer families miss out on formal childcare

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The proportion of families using breakfast clubs has doubled in the last seven years, according to the DfE's latest survey of parents.
Morton, Katy
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2018


According to the Department for Education’s (DfE) Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents 2017, the percentage of families using breakfast clubs has risen from four per cent in 2010-11 to eight per cent in 2017.

The rise in the use of breakfast clubs was greatest for children aged five to seven.

The findings are based upon the responses of almost 5,700 parents in England with children from birth to age 14, who were interviewed by Ipsos Mori between January and August 2017.

Overall, the survey finds that the use of formal childcare has increased and informal childcare has remained stable.

A breakdown by provider type shows that 10 per cent of families used day nurseries in 2017, up from eight per cent in 2010-11.

However, the findings show that higher earning families were more likely to be using formal childcare, with less than half (44 per cent) of families earning below £10,000 a year taking up a place, in comparison to 69 per cent of families earning £45,000 or more.

Parents who took part in the survey reported paying an average (mean) of £5.20 per hour for a day nursery place, £4 an hour for a place at a nursery school and £6 an hour for a childminder.

Just over half of parents in the survey who paid for childcare said it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to meet their childcare costs, with one in five (21 per cent) finding it ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’.

Of those using formal childcare, 23 per cent said they received financial help from others to pay fees. Parents were most likely to receive support from their employer, followed by the local education authority.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance, said, ‘The Department for Education's parent survey once again highlights how important childcare is to children and families across the country, with 96 per cent of four-year-olds and 93 per cent of three-year-olds now in receipt of Government funded early education.

‘However, the fact that only 44 per cent of families earning below £10,000 per year are receiving formal childcare, compared to 69 per cent of families earning £45,000 or more, shows that much more needs to be done to ensure that those children from lower income families have equal access to affordable, quality care and education.

‘It is disappointing, therefore, that instead of looking to address this trend, the Government chose to introduce a 30 hours policy which entrenches, rather than tackles, inequality within the childcare system. Not only does the policy exclude families on the lowest end of the income scale completely, while allowing working families earning up to £100,000 to benefit from the scheme, but chronic underfunding means that many childcare providers are unable to offer 30 hours funded places without asking families to subsidise the funding shortfall, forcing them to give priority to parents who are able to afford to pay for additional good and services.

‘As a result, we risk creating a situation where an even greater number of disadvantaged children – arguably, those who have most to gain from early years education – are unable to access it. Given the government's recent renewed commitment to improving social mobility, we hope it will take note of these findings and ensuring that it invests what's needed to ensure that quality childcare and early education is available to all families that need it.’

-reprinted from Nursery World