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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Education in the media: Thursday 18 January 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Childcare

Today’s Education in the media looks at 30 hours free childcare, pupil number overestimations and Minister Gyimah’s tour of universities

30 Hours Free Childcare

Today, Thursday 18 January, the Pre-School Learning Alliance (PSLA) has released findings from a survey of 1,662 nurseries, pre-schools and childminders about the Government’s 30 hours free childcare scheme. The survey suggests that the Pre- School Learning Alliance believe a number of childcare providers are not offering the 30 hours as ‘completely free’ places. Childcare providers comment that funding for the scheme is too low and say that they are relying on additional charges to cover costs.

This story was covered on the Today programme, BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 live, The Times and BBC Online.

The Department is clear that parents who are eligible will get 30 hours of childcare for free but has said that providers can charge parents for meals, consumables (such as nappies and sun cream) and for additional activities (such as trips and yoga). However, it is crucial that parents are not required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up a free place.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

We are investing a record amount of around £6 billion every year by 2020 in childcare and have doubled the free childcare available to working parents to 30 hours a week, saving them up to £5,000 a year per child.

Providers can choose whether to offer 30 hours and what pattern of days and hours they offer parents. We have always been clear that government funding is not intended to cover the costs of meals or additional services. However, while providers can charge parents for additional extras, this cannot be a condition of the child’s place.

Pupil Numbers

Today the TES has written about FOI data which shows that pupil numbers for free schools and University Technical Colleges (UTCs) has resulted in overpayments to these schools and colleges.

Some new academies, free schools and University Technical Colleges are initially funded based on estimates of the number of pupils they have. There is then an adjustment to reflect actual figures when these schools or colleges open.

Where a University Technical College or free school has overestimated pupil numbers, the Department works to recover this money.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Free schools and University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are a key part of our ambition to increase education standards to ensure young people have the skills and experiences they need to get on in life.

Funding that is provided to set up new free schools and university technical colleges is based estimates on pupil numbers. Once the school or UTC opens, this funding is then adjusted to reflect actual figures and where necessary, we work with the institutions to recover funding.

We have agreed recovery plans in place for most free schools and university technical colleges that have pupil number adjustments, and we are in discussion with the others about terms for recovery.

University tour

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah has announced today, Thursday 18 January, that he will embark on a tour of the country’s universities so that he has the opportunity to meet with and speak directly to vice-chancellors, lecturers and researchers, but also, crucially, to students. He begins the tour today with a visit to the Mile End campus of the Queen Mary’s University in London.

You can read more about the Minister’s ambitions for his university tour here.

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