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Agenda item

Early Years and Childcare Update


Officers presented an update on the Early Years and Childcare provision to the committee. In the discussion, the following points were raised:

·         Officers had set out to the committee what the national childcare offer was, what was currently offered in Islington addition, and what the future opportunities and challenges were.

·         Officers told the committee that in terms of the national offer, there was currently a universal offer for all three and four-year-olds of fifteen hours, and a targeted offer for two-year-olds of 15 hours which is salary dependent, the threshold of which was particularly low for London, as it hadn’t been updated in the last decade. There were many families that were missing out because of not meeting that threshold. There was also a 30-hour offer.

·         Islington complemented the national offer by providing a childcare subsidy to the value of £5 million.

·         Priority learning places were aimed at working parents and at those that were particularly vulnerable as it was known that if families were able to access quality childcare without delay, there was a greater chance a disorder would not develop.

·         Islington’s childcare offer was also offered to children who were aged six months old and not restricted to just working parents but was also available to parents or carers who were in training.

·         Officers were in the process of reviewing the current offer and evaluating the new national offer.

·         Officers acknowledged that the Islington offer was complicated and told members that they had recently commissioned an external review which led to a number of recommendations. Officers also acknowledged that accessibility and simplicity was important, and together with the recommendations, the new offer presented an opportunity to streamline the local offer.

·         Priority learning places were not rigid and could be worked around developmental delay or Special Educational Needs (SEN) requirements.

·         The free entitlement for working families (30 hours) worked well for families that were in permanent stable employment, but less so for those on less stable employment, that could fall in and out of eligibility on a termly basis as the entitlement operated on a per-term basis. This posed a real challenge for Islington families and officers were assessing how the subsidy could redistributed to best support those in need.

·         Officers informed members that there was an issue in that there was quite a high reliance on agency staff, and they were currently working on a workforce strategy for this sector. It was acknowledged that their needed to be a creative approach to marketing this as a career choice that does provide career pathways into areas such as health visitors and other early years positions. Currently, roles in this area were said to be low paid and difficult to recruit and retain to. Officers were also working closely with providers on this matter and given the new rates will be really favourable to childminders, officers were hoping that were be more interest in these roles.


Officers to keep members updated on outcome of workforce strategy for childminders and early years staff.


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