Agenda item

Update on take-up of the extended 30 hours entitlement and wider early years entitlements in Brent

This report provides an update on take-up of the free entitlement to 30 hours places in Brent as well as take up of the 2 year entitlement and the universal entitlement to 15 hours free early education for all 3 and 4 year olds.

Minutes:

Brain Grady, Operational Director, Safeguarding, Partnerships and Strategy

Children and Young People, Brent Council, introduced the report setting out the statutory entitlement to 30 hours of free childcare and early education for all 3 and 4 year olds from working families took effect on 1 September 2017 and 30 hour places that had been delivered in the borough alongside the existing free early education entitlements for eligible 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds. The report provided an update on take-up of the free entitlement to 30 hours places in Brent as well as take-up of the 2-year entitlement and the universal entitlement to 15 hours free early education for all 3 and 4 year olds.

 

In considering the report, the following comments and points were noted:

 

·         In relation to challenges about the take-up, it was noted that the paper was discussed by the Task and Finish Groupon 27 March 2019 where the experience of offering 30 hours places was discussed, with some members of the group reporting that delivery of these places was a struggle. It was acknowledged however that there were also other providers in the borough who had advised that delivering 30 hour places had been a success and helped their sustainability significantly. It was also noted that while take-up of the two-year entitlement and the universal 3 and 4-year entitlement were still below London and national averages, take-up of the 30-hour entitlement had been consistently high in Brent since the roll-out in September 2017. Appendix 4 provided the breakdown of take up by ward for 2017-2018 academic year;

 

·         Information about 2-year olds should also be considered if available;

 

·         In relation to a comment about more marketing and awareness could be helpful to increase the take-up, it was noted that take up for the 30 hour entitlements had been consistently strong in the borough with take up in all terms, with the exception of one, exceeding the outer London average. Early difficulties with access to the HRMC online application system have largely been addressed and the Local Authority had received no recent feedback from families indicating that they had experienced problems with using this system. Promotion for the 30 hour free entitlements was ongoing and progress against take up targets for this entitlement was positive. Notwithstanding this, anecdotal feedback from parents indicated that some were choosing not to take up their full entitlement. Parents report that this was for a variety of reasons including a desire to spend time at home with children and a feeling that children were of an age when long hours at a nursery might not be appropriate. The Borough also received a congratulatory letter from the relevant Minister about the local take-up rate;

 

·         Innovative work was taking place to engage employers in the childcare agenda and this had resulted in a number of Brent employers making changes to their recruitment practices and provision of information to their employees to enable them to access childcare to meet their needs. Alongside this, the early years, quality improvement and early years inclusion support teams were involved in targeted work in ward areas to raise the profile of early learning (both in the home learning and formal childcare setting). These initiatives were now at risk as funding had not been agreed at School Forum which must be approved;

 

·         The Chair requested a report from the early years at the next meeting;

 

RESOLVED that:

 

·         The Schools Forum noted the contents of this paper as an update from that presented in a paper to Schools Forum in June 2017; and

 

·         An update from early years be presented at the next Schools Forum meeting. (Action: Brian Grady)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: