Early years survey of parents published

10 January 2020

The Department for Education has published its annual Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents which reveals that 76% of under-fives in England used childcare in 2019, equating to 1.9 million children.

The survey covers parents’ use of childcare and early years provision, and their views and experiences, including:

  • what childcare is used by different types of families

  • what childcare is used by different types of families and children

  • changes in take-up of childcare over the years

  • parents’ reasons for using or not using childcare and for choosing particular providers

  • parents’ views on the providers they used and on childcare provision in their local area in general

  • the perceived impacts of the 30-hour childcare policy on families and children

  • the influence of childcare arrangements on mothers’ decisions about whether to go out to work and working patterns

  • children’s use of digital technology in the home learning environment.

Key findings from the survey include the following.

  • 27% of parents found it difficult or very difficult to meet childcare costs – up from 23% in 2018.

  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of parents rated the overall quality of local childcare provision as very or fairly good.

  • The great majority (79%) of parents supported male staff caring for children, with just 5% opposed.

  • 69% of working mothers said that having reliable childcare helped them go out to work, a rise from 63% in 2018.

  • More children are in day nurseries (22% compared with 16% in 2010); in nursery schools numbers have risen from 11% to 13%, and in nursery classes 7% to 10%.

  • Children in deprived areas spend less time in formal childcare (57%) compared with children in the least deprived areas (74%).

  • 33% of children use informal childcare (usually grandparents) averaging 10 hours per week.

  • 22% of parents reported problems finding childcare.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive at the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said:

“Some of these figures are encouraging, such as almost three quarters of parents rating their local childcare as good or very good and 79% of parents supporting male carers. Hopefully this will help to encourage both providers to make particular efforts to employ more male practitioners and potential male candidates to apply, knowing they should be accepted and appreciated.”

“We are concerned about the number of parents who are still unaware of the two-year-old childcare offer, especially in deprived areas. This is where early education can make the most difference and more must be done to reach all communities in understanding the benefits for their children. The number of parents aware of Tax-Free Childcare is also still very low, even though it has gone up by 8% since last year. The Government must do more to raise awareness of this support.”

“We can also clearly see that the majority of children under five years old use day nurseries. As the largest provider of Government-funded hours, PVI nurseries must not be ignored or overlooked. They must be given the same status as nursery schools and the PVI sector be involved in any decisions regarding childcare policy.”