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Message from the Director of Early Years and Childcare, Department of Education

Since the publication of More Affordable Childcare in July our focus at the Department for Education has been on making a reality of the policies it set out.

Overall, the Government’s aim is to create real choices for parents. We want to see an early years and childcare market where families understand and take advantage of their core entitlement to early education, and parents who work find it easy to get high quality and affordable childcare.

Demand for childcare is set to grow. The extension of the early education entitlement along with demographic change, welfare reform, and economic growth all present a great opportunity for providers of all types, whether that’s nurseries, childminders, schools – either as providers themselves, or working with others – or through common sense arrangements with friends.

We know that real choice means high quality provision. That is why at the same time as removing the barriers to growth in the market, we are refocusing the regulatory and funding regime to reward quality outcomes. We want to continue the upward trajectory in early years quality and ensure that every penny of investment has the greatest impact for children.

Our vision is a system that enables parents to find the childcare they need, and where children get an early education that equips them for life. Delivering that vision depends on the energy, creativity and passion that resides within you – let’s work together to unleash it.

Olivia McLeod


Early Years and Childcare

Department for Education



Childminder Agencies

The Department for Education has now published further information about childminder agencies and the trials it is running at:  20 trials are now established, representing a mix of schools and children’s centres, to private businesses including nanny agencies and nurseries, and local childminder networks.  In addition and linked with its role in supporting the trials, additional supporting information has been placed on the Strategic Partner website at:


The Department is running a consultation on Primary Assessment and Accountability and on whether we should retain a baseline at the end of Key Stage 1 or introduce a simple check at the start of reception as a baseline to measure progress. 

Please click on the link below to take part in the on line consultation which closes on 11 October:

The consultations on tax-free childcare and new planning regulations for nurseries are due to close on 14 October and 15 October.

The consultation on tax free childcare sets out the potential eligibility criteria for tax-free childcare, the approach to managing voucher accounts for each child, the role of the market, and the key information and validation processes.

You can view the consultation document here

The consultation on new flexibilities for opening nurseries puts forward proposals that will extend the planning relaxations recently agreed for schools to nurseries which should speed up and simplify the process for opening new nurseries.

The consultation is available here

News from Ofsted

The updated versions of Conducting early years inspections and the Evaluation schedule for inspections of registered early years provision is now available on the Ofsted website.

These versions highlight the introduction of the “requires improvement” judgement which makes it clear nothing less than good is good enough.  The schedule gives clear grade descriptors which not only guide inspectors in the making of their judgements and most importantly are helpful in  supporting individual setting’s self- evaluation processes.

As previously, attention is given to what an inspector “sees on the day of inspection” but also the knowledge of the provision being inspected.

The documents emphasis the crucial role of teaching and it is helpful that Ofsted’s definition of teaching is included.  References to ‘Development Matters’ have been removed and in places references are now made to the ‘Early Years Outcomes’ aide.

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