Last reviewed 21 July 2021

Nursery closures in England increased by more than a third during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the same period the previous year, according to a new report by the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

The NDNA says the number of closed nurseries equates to a loss of more than 11,000 childcare places, with the true figure likely to be much higher. In addition, the analysis reveals that a greater proportion of closures were in the most deprived communities in England. More than a third of closures (34.5%) were in the top 30% deprived areas between April 2020 and March 2021. The report also reveals that almost three quarters (72.4%) of the overall closures were in areas with a funding rate of £5 or less per hour of funded childcare.

NDNA’s report identifies eight urgent actions for the Government including investment to support nursery sustainability, ensuring early years funding supports the delivery of high quality early education through the Comprehensive Spending Review and simplifying the funding system for both parents and providers.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said:

“Year after year we have seen nurseries and childcare settings struggle to make ends meet on the funding they receive from Government. Now we are seeing that the pressures of the pandemic have been the final straw for even more nurseries.”

“Children have already missed out on so much through this pandemic, those in nursery have spent large parts of their life under lockdown conditions, the last thing they need is the upheaval of their setting closing. Early years has to be the foundation of the Government’s education recovery plans if we are to avoid a lost generation of young learners.”

“We are extremely worried that the highest proportion of closures took place in the most deprived areas of England where the children are most in need of the high quality early education and care these nurseries deliver. Without this best start in life, the attainment gap will continue to widen.”

Ahead of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn, the NDNA are looking at how nursery places are funded and how childcare providers have been impacted through a short survey with nurseries which can be accessed here.

The full report, Nurseries and the impact of closures in the first year of the pandemic, is available here.