What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement? - Literature review and qualitative stakeholder work - Sutton Trust

 
What do we know about
the 30 hour entitlement?
Literature review and qualitative
stakeholder work
Professor Chris Pascal,
Professor Tony Bertram
and Dr Aline Cole-Albäck,
Centre for Research
in Early Childhood
Key Findings – Literature Review

   The 30 hour policy                                          Take-up

   •   In England, there is an entitlement to                  • Take-up rates of the free entitlement
       universal part-time early education for                   for two-year-olds and the universal offer
       three- and four-year-olds, and targeted                   for three- and four-year-olds in all sectors
       early education hours for less advantaged                 has declined over the last year, but
       children from the age of two.                             take-up of the two year old entitlement
                                                                 in the maintained sector has increased.
   •   Since 2017 there can be seen to be a
                                                                 There is significant variation in take-up
       policy shift in England to focus more on
                                                                 by region and socio-economic status.
       supporting ‘working families’, rather than
                                                                 Take-up rates for children with special
       families living in poverty or disadvantage,
                                                                 needs and disability have been particu-
       through extending the hours of funded
                                                                 larly affected by the COVID pandemic.
       places for three and four year olds from
       15 to 30 hours and also offering childcare              •   Childcare choice and take-up is influenced
       tax advantages and additional benefits,                     by both provider-related factors such as
       for those in employment.                                    sufficiency, cost/funding and flexibility
                                                                   of provision and parent-related factors
   • The introduction of the 30 hour entitle-
                                                                   such as personal preference, awareness
     ment has created a system in which the
                                                                   of entitlements and eligibility. The issue of
     very poorest children are given greater
                                                                   quality does not appear to be a factor in
     access to funded early education and care
                                                                   parent choice and take-up, meaning the
     at the age of 2, but where many of these
                                                                   market is not driving sector improvement
     same children are then given access to
                                                                   or enhanced access.
     fewer funded hours than better-off
     children at the ages of three to four.                    •   Parent-related factors are influenced
                                                                   by socio-economic disadvantage, English
                                                                   as an additional language (EAL), ethnicity,
                                                                   population mobility, special educational
                                                                   needs and disabilities (SEND) and employ-
                                                                   ment status.

                                                               •   Research suggests that with greater flexi-
                                                                   bility of provision, support for parents new
                                                                   to an area and those of children with EAL
                                                                   and SEND, together with a better under-
                                                                   standing of the benefits of early education,
                                                                   parents would be more likely to take up
                                                                   funded entitlements. Some parents will
                                                                   still prefer for their child to start formal
                                                                   early education when their child is older,
                                                                   thus limiting take-up rates achievable.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Key Findings                                       18
•   For parents of children with SEND there
                                                               School Readiness
       are additional barriers to take-up, includ-
                                                               and Attainment Gap
       ing lack of awareness and understanding
       with regard to eligibility; fear of stigma-
                                                               • The attainment gap between more and
       tisation; and concerns over the ability of
                                                                 less advantaged children is increasing,
       staff to deal with a child’s additional needs.
                                                                 after a period of improvement. It is sug-
   • There is some evidence that a lack                          gested that the COVID pandemic might
     of impact of the entitlements on child                      have further escalated this widening.
     outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged
                                                               •   Closing the gap requires a holistic,
     children, may be due to lower hours of
                                                                   complex and sustained approach,
     access and lower qualifications of staff
                                                                   supported by a highly trained and
     in settings serving these communities. It is
                                                                   stable workforce.
     suggested that action on enhancing staff
     qualifications across the sector is needed                • There is some evidence that the 30 hour
     if free entitlements are not to further                     extended entitlement for working families
     disadvantage the less advantaged.                           may be contributing to the widening
                                                                 in the attainment gap by doubly advan-
                                                                 taging the better off with additional
    Quality                                                      hours. Accessing fewer hours, com-
                                                                 bined with attendance at settings with
   •   Despite a widening of the attainment                      lower qualified staff, can mean lower
       gap in child outcomes in the last few                     attainment for the less advantaged.
       years, Ofsted inspections indicate that
                                                               • There is some evidence that a strategy
       the majority of the early childhood
                                                                 to both increase the funded hours and
       education and care (ECEC) sector
                                                                 enhance practitioner qualification in set-
       offers high quality provision.
                                                                 tings for the less advantaged would lead
   •   A key factor in quality ECEC is the                       to better outcomes for the less advan-
       qualification level of the workforce,                     taged and a closing of the attainment gap.
       yet this is deteriorating across the sector
                                                               • There is evidence that the early
       and means fewer children are accessing
                                                                 years pupil premium (EYPP) could further
       provision with a qualified graduate
                                                                 enhance child attainment for the less
       or teacher.
                                                                 advantaged, but only if it is adequately
   •   Recent policy choices have emphasised                     funded, well targeted and easier
       increasing the number of childcare/early                  to administer.
       education places for working parents
       rather than enhancing the quality of
       education provision through employing
       highly trained staff.

   •   It is suggested that a blurring of
       the policy intention between childcare
       and early education means the quality
       debate is confused.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Key Findings                                  19
• There is acknowledged government
   Universal versus
                                                                 concern about the loss of time in settings
   Targeted Provision
                                                                 and schools leading to learning loss.
                                                                 The lower take-up of funded places since
   •   Evidence shows the benefits of universal
                                                                 the pandemic is continuing to cause
       provision above targeted provision in
                                                                 concern for children’s learning potential
       closing the attainment gap, as long as
                                                                 and progress.
       take-up rates amongst the less advan-
       taged are high. It is suggested that                    • There is evidence that parental concerns
       universal provision encourages a social                   about health and wellbeing are leading to
       mix amongst children, attracts more                       a continued reluctance to allow children
       highly qualified staff, removes stigma                    to engage in centre based ECEC, which
       and encourages take up of places.                         again is more prevalent in less advantaged
                                                                 communities and for children with SEND.
   • Targeted provision has multiple barriers
     to access for the less advantaged and
     can lead to longer term problems for
                                                               Impact of Formal Hours
     the beneficiaries and more inequality
                                                               in Childcare
     rather than less.

                                                               •   It is evident that access to high quality
                                                                   ECEC can result in positive benefits for
    Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
                                                                   all children, and especially less advan-
    on the Development of Children
                                                                   taged children, particularly in relation
                                                                   to enhanced language and social skills.
   • The pandemic has increased and
                                                                   While evidence on the optimal number of
     exposed the financial vulnerability of
                                                                   hours is unclear, indications are that this
     the ECEC sector, with many providers
                                                                   is higher than the current universal enti-
     suggesting their futures are no longer
                                                                   tlement of 15 hours.
     sustainable. This has implications
     for the sector’s capacity to absorb                       •   Evidence indicates a range of between
     any enhanced entitlements.                                    15–25 hours a week after the age of two
                                                                   years as being positive as long as provision
   • The experiences and impact of the
                                                                   is of high quality. There is also evidence
     pandemic on young children have had
                                                                   of a positive association with children’s
     less visibility at policy level than for older
                                                                   outcomes when attendance is for more
     children, leading to a lack of awareness
                                                                   than 15 hours in graduate led settings.
     in policy responses.
                                                               • There is some evidence of the negative
   • There is emerging evidence that the
                                                                 impact on socio-emotional outcomes
     lack of experience in early years settings
                                                                 of children spending too many hours and
     due to the pandemic has impacted
                                                                 starting too early in formal ECEC.
     significantly and disproportionately
     on the development and learning of less                   • There is some evidence that the negative
     advantaged children and children with                       effects can be mitigated by a more highly
     SEND. This is particularly in the areas of                  qualified workforce.
     Communication and Language, Personal,
                                                               • The number of hours and the timing of
     Social and Emotional development,
                                                                 these hours can also impact on positive
     and Literacy.
                                                                 or negative outcomes for children.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Key Findings                                      20
1
Introduction and Methodology

Introduction                                                    However, there are two key and different drivers
                                                                to each of these funded programmes: early
The early years 30 hours policy, (also known as                 education for the universal and the two-year-old
the ‘extended entitlement’), was introduced for                 targeted offer; and childcare to support working
eligible three- and four-year-olds of qualifying                parents for the additional 30 hours entitlement.
parents or carers in England in September 2017
(for more details on eligibility, see Box 1 below).            The introduction of the 30 hour entitlement has
                                                               also created a system in which the very poorest
The policy was primarily designed to support                   children are given greater access to funded early
access to affordable childcare for working                     education and care at the age of 2, but where
parents, and was provided additionally to the                  many of these same children are then given
universal free entitlement of 15 hours of funded               access to fewer funded hours than better-off
early education for all three- and four-year-                  children at the ages of three to four.
olds, and to the 15 hours available to 40% of
the most disadvantaged children from the
age of two years.

   Box 1: Eligibility for the 30 hour entitlement

   Eligibility for the 30 hours entitlement                     Self-employed parents and parents on zero-
   is determined by a means-test based on                       hour contracts are eligible if they meet the
   minimum and maximum earnings. Under                          average earnings threshold. Parents can still
   the extended entitlement, eligible children                  be eligible if they usually work but:
   of qualifying parents are provided with
   570 hours of funded childcare in addition to                •    one or both parents are away from work
   a universal entitlement of 15 hours of early                     on statutory sick pay;
   education from the age of three, or two if
                                                               •    one or both parents are on parental,
   you are disadvantaged.
                                                                    maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

   To qualify for 30 hours of free childcare, each
                                                                In addition, parents are eligible if one parent
   parent (or the sole parent in a single parent
                                                                is employed, but the other:
   family) needs to earn on average, the equiv-
   alent of 16 hours on the national minimum
                                                               •    has substantial caring responsibilities
   wage per week and no more than £100,000
                                                                    based on specific benefits for caring,
   per year. A family with an annual household
                                                                    is disabled or incapacitated based on
   income of £199,999 would be eligible if
                                                                    specific benefits.
   each parent earns just under £100,000.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 1                                         21
This policy analysis and literature review sets out            •    What is the nature of gaps in education
to generate an evidence base which can inform                       development and school readiness, and what
future priorities for government early childhood                    impact has the current 30 hours policy had
and care (ECEC) policy, with a focus on improv-                     on these?
ing outcomes for children from lower socio-
                                                               •    How has the prevailing government
economic backgrounds. Specifically, it aims to:
                                                                    view of early years provision as childcare
                                                                    rather than early education impacted
1. summarise existing research on the
                                                                    on the quality of provision, for example
   30 hours policy;
                                                                    through lack of funding?
2. look at potential impacts of the Covid-19
                                                               •    What impact has the pandemic had on
   pandemic (both on the early years sector and
                                                                    the development of pre-school age children,
   on child and family needs);
                                                                    with a particular emphasis on socio-
3. summarise some of the policy options for                         economic gaps?
   reform and identify pros and cons of each.
                                                               •    How many hours are enough? Does it need to
                                                                    be 30, and in what pattern of delivery, what is
                                                                    known currently about this?
Review Methodology
                                                               To allow for a rapid turnaround, the review of
The literature review and policy analysis was
                                                               literature and policy primarily focuses on:
desk based and conducted in line with a
methodical review as defined by Cole-Albäck
                                                               •    existing reviews and sources;
(2020) to allow for a rapid turnaround, to help
inform spending decisions coming out of the                    •    evidence from 2017 to 2021 (and beyond
pandemic. A methodical review is similar to a                       this time frame where appropriate);
systematic review (Booth et al., 2012) in that it is
                                                               •    evidence from England and the rest of the UK,
comprehensive, rigorous and transparent fol-
                                                                    especially Scotland.
lowing a set protocol of established timeframes,
base criteria, agreed keywords and a synthesis
                                                               The review includes literature from websites,
of the evidence base. Published studies were
                                                               peer reviewed articles from the ERIC and BEI
included depending on their relevance to the
                                                               database, sources from reference lists (snow-
aims of the review.
                                                               balling) and grey literature. For the ERIC and BEI
                                                               database searches, the following base criteria
The policy analysis and literature review set out
                                                               were used: full text; peer reviewed; academic
to generate an evidence base to inform future
                                                               journals; from OECD countries; from 2017 (when
priorities for government policy. To meet the
                                                               the early years 30 hours entitlement for some
review aims the analysis of the evidence on
                                                               working parents was introduced). The keywords
England’s ECEC policy was framed to address
                                                               used can be found in Appendix 1. Results for
these four agreed questions:
                                                               searches using Research Indexes (BEI and ERIC)
                                                               can be found in Appendix 2.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 1                                        22
2
Review of Early Childhood Education
and Care Policies in England
Before going on to look at the 30 hours policy                 to be meant as a temporary solution to an
in detail, the next section briefly summarises                 insufficient number of places in state provision,
early childhood and care policies in England,                  this arrangement has largely remained until
to give context to issues related to the                       today, with inherent problems as raised by Chen
30 hour entitlement.                                           and Bradbury (2020), and discussed further in
                                                               Section 3. The legacy of this policy history is
Key policies in England can be grouped under                   very evident in the current ECEC system, which
four broad areas according to Stewart and                      is diverse and fragmented and still largely split
Reader (2020): parental leave; support for                     between ‘education’ and ‘care’ providers.
parents and parenting; high quality Early
Childhood Education and Care (ECEC); and                       In 1996 the Conservative Government had
financial support through cash benefits. It is                 introduced a free entitlement for part-time
the latter two that are of particular interest in              early education for all four-year-olds. In 1998
this report and whether the balance is right in                the Labour Government extended this free enti-
England between investing in affordable child-                 tlement to all three- and four-year-olds. By 2005
care for working parents, and supporting child                 take-up of this extended offer meant that access
development by investing in high quality early                 to free, part time early education for three- and
education. This section summarises key polices                 four-year-olds had almost become universal.
in each of the UK nations in relation to these                 The entitlement was initially for 2.5 hours a day
two ECEC agendas.                                              (12.5 hours a week) for 33 weeks a year, but was
                                                               expanded to cover 15 hours a week (which could
                                                               be taken flexibly over fewer days) for 38 weeks
Changes over time                                              a year. The Labour government also promoted
                                                               childcare as part of a National Childcare
Policy concern for the youngest children can                   Strategy, its flagship policy of Sure Start local
be identified in legislative changes made                      programmes (announced in 1998) and through
throughout the 20th century. In the early 1900s                the tax and benefit system. The Sure Start pro-
the ‘new’ nursery schools were promoted as the                 gramme was superseded by the establishment
solution for the education of poor children and                of Children’s Centres, a universal programme
although the idea that nursery education may be                rather than one for disadvantaged areas as in
beneficial for all children was there in the 1940s,            the case of Sure Start local programmes. The
this did not take off as nursery schools contin-               intention of this policy was to create a ‘double
ued to be seen primarily as needed for the most                dividend’ by promoting good quality childcare
deprived or neglected children and children of                 which would enhance children’s development
working mothers (West, 2020). It was not until                 and encourage parental employment (Strategy
the 1970s, after the Plowden Report (DES, 1967),               Unit, 2002). The provision for places was not
that the idea of universal nursery education                   secured through an expansion of maintained
begun to take hold, as proposed in the White                   provision but rather through stimulating the
Paper Education: A framework for expansion                     private market for childcare and early education
(DES, 1972), but with recognition that private and             that had grown significantly. The free entitlement
voluntary providers would need to ‘fill the gap’ in            could be accessed at a local authority nursery
state provision (West, 2020). Although it seemed               school, a nursery class in a maintained school,

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 2                                     23
or at a private, voluntary or independent setting              2. The two year old entitlement is intended to
or with a child-minder (Lewis, 2011).                             broadly cover the 40% most disadvantaged
                                                                  children and to offer them access to 15 hours
In 2013, the Coalition government commissioned                    of funded early education. Eligibility targets
two new early years policy documents, More                        families on low incomes (those on Universal
Great Childcare and More Affordable Childcare,                    Credit or who receive tax credits) and chil-
which focused specifically on extending child-                    dren who are vulnerable for other reasons,
care to support working parents. It is argued that                such as looked after children or children in
this policy illustrates the switch of early years                 care, and children with Special Education
policy to focus almost entirely on extending                      Needs or with a disability. These funded
childcare rather than early education (Lloyd,                     places can be provided by registered child-
2015). However, from September 2013, the free                     minders, private and voluntary day nurseries,
entitlement to 15 hours of early education was                    preschools, maintained nurseries and schools.
extended to two-year-olds from low income                         Again, the focus is ensuring these less advan-
families by the Coalition Government. It is argued                taged children receive early education that
that this inability to reconcile competing early                  can help boost their attainment and ‘close
years policy rationales has led to a lack of coher-               the gap’ in their development and learning.
ence and progress in social mobility (Moss, 2014;
                                                               3. Since September 2017, three and four year
Brewer et al, 2014; Paull 2014).
                                                                  olds with working parents are entitled to a
                                                                  free nursery place equivalent to 30 hours
                                                                  per week over 38 weeks of the year. This is
Recent policy in England
                                                                  known as the extended entitlement (DfE,
                                                                  2018). These funded places can be provided
By 2017 the government supported universal
                                                                  by registered childminders, private and volun-
and free entitlements had been extended signifi-
                                                                  tary day nurseries, preschools, maintained
cantly, as described below, to meet the needs of
                                                                  nurseries and schools (see more details in
40 percent of disadvantaged two-year-olds and
                                                                  section 1.1). The extended entitlement is
all three and four year olds (West, 2020). The
                                                                  specifically targeted at working families to
30 hour extended entitlement for three year olds
                                                                  enhance their access to affordable childcare.
built further on this developing system of ECEC
support. In summary, there are currently three
                                                               In addition to these three policy initiatives, in
main funded programmes:
                                                               2017 the Early Years National Funding Formula
                                                               (EYNFF) was set up for delivering the universal
1. The universal entitlement for all three-
                                                               and additional entitlements. The Department for
   and four-year-olds to 570 hours of free
                                                               Education (DfE) provides Local Authorities with
   early education provision per year, typically
                                                               six relevant funding streams for the free entitle-
   taken as 15 hours per week over a minimum
                                                               ments as follows (ESFA, 2020b: 4):
   of 38 and a maximum of 52 weeks of the
   year. Children are eligible from the start of
                                                               1. The 15 hours entitlement for disadvantaged
   the term after they turn three until they start
                                                                  two-year-olds;
   Reception year. These funded places can be
   provided by registered childminders, private                2. The universal 15 hours entitlement for three
   and voluntary day nurseries, preschools,                       3- and four-year olds;
   maintained nurseries and schools. The
                                                               3. The additional 15 hours entitlement
   focus of this policy is to ensure all children
                                                                  for eligible working parents of three-
   have access to quality early education
                                                                  and four-year olds;
   to ensure school readiness prior to entry
   to compulsory schooling.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 2                                        24
4. The early years pupil premium (EYPP);                       above, due to Covid-19, Local Authorities this
                                                               year have not been paid based on January 2021
5. The disability access fund (DAF);
                                                               census data but in 2021–2022 will be paid based
6. Maintained nursery school (MNS)                             on actual attendance (DfE, 2021a).
   supplementary funding.
                                                               As to provision for babies and infants under two,
The average hourly rate for three- and four-                   there is no free entitlement for this age group
year-olds across the Local Authorities is £4.99                (EURYDICE, 2020a). In addition to the universal
(EFSA, 2020a), up two pence from 2020–2021                     and extended entitlements there is targeted
(EFSA, 2019a). The average rate however does                   childcare support through the benefit system
not recognise the variation between inner city                 (Universal Credit) and/or tax-free childcare.
London rates (Camden, £8.51) and, for instance,
Yorkshire (York, £4.44). Due to Covid-19 Local                 According to Stewart and Reader (2020), the
Authorities have not been paid based on                        more recent focus on investing additionally in
January 2021 census data, but for 2021–2022                    affordable childcare for working parents can
will be paid based on actual attendance, with                  be seen to have contributed to the gradual
supplementary funding for maintained nursery                   shift away from supporting child development
schools (DfE, 2021a).                                          through investing in high quality early education.
                                                               In the Nutbrown Review (2012) it was identified
Stewart and Reader (2020) highlight that the                   that quality of provision requires staff with
EYNFF risks undermining quality as it threatens                higher qualifications than are currently required.
the viability of nursery schools, thought to offer             A review by Mathers and colleagues (2014) for
the highest quality as they are led by qualified               the Sutton Trust​explored international evidence
teachers, because they are now, with the                       on the dimensions of quality which support the
EYNFF, funded at a much lower rate. The fact                   learning and development of children from birth
that there is also regulatory requirement to pass              to three years old also suggested that Level 3 (A
through a set amount of the DfE funding to                     level equivalent) should be the minimum require-
providers poses an additional challenge for local              ment that should be considered, especially
authorities to support professional development                when working with two-year-old children from
and quality improvement.                                       challenging circumstances. The lack of highly
                                                               qualified staff in early years settings continues
A two-year-old child meeting eligibility criteria              to be the case and workforce supply challenges
is entitled to 570 hours of free provision per                 have increased (Pascal et al., 2020a).
year, typically taken as 15 hours per week over
a minimum of 38 and a maximum of 52 weeks                      Over recent years, school-readiness has also
of the year (DfE, 2018). As mentioned above,                   become a more prominent consideration with a
the DfE provides Local Authorities with the                    growing shift away from a play-based curriculum
funding for the free 15 hours entitlement for                  towards more formal learning through a focus
disadvantaged two-year-olds; however, there                    on literacy and numeracy as key aspects of
are no regulatory requirements to pass through                 school readiness, according to Stewart and
a set amount of the DfE funding nor is there a                 Reader (2020). This shift in focus, together
compulsory supplement or a special educational                 with the introduction of the Reception Baseline
needs inclusion fund (ESFA, 2020b).                            Assessment (STA, 2020) and the Phonics
                                                               Screening Check (STA, 2019) in Year One, puts
For 2021–2022, the average hourly rate for two-                into question what we mean by ‘quality’ in early
year-olds across the Local Authorities in England              childhood education. According to Stewart and
is £5.62 (EFSA, 2020a). This is down from £5.82                Reader (2020: 20) recent policy commitments
in 2020–2021 (EFSA, 2019a). As mentioned                       have been framed “mainly as improving childcare

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 2                                      25
for working parents, with very little attention to             early education for children and childcare for
early childhood as a life stage in its own right”.             working parents. In Wales there is an entitle-
                                                               ment to universal part-time early education for
                                                               three- and four-year-olds, and targeted early
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland                           education hours for less advantaged children
                                                               from the age of two. (For further details see
Reflecting on early childhood education and                    Appendix 3).
care policy in Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland alongside England, we can see that all
four nations in the UK have a level of universal                Summary
funded entitlement for three- and four-year-
old children, motivated mainly by supporting                   In summary, all children in England are entitled to
children’s development and learning. The                       part-time (15 hours) of early education from the
amount of hours offered is part time, between                  age of three, and for less advantaged children
10–15 hours a week, other than in Scotland,                    from the age of two, and additionally, children
which has recently extended its universal offer                from working households are entitled to a further
to 30 hours a week term-time from summer                       15 hours of childcare (ie 30 hours total) from
2021. In each nation there are very different                  the age of three and other subsidies before
approaches to supporting parents into work,                    this. It is evident that rather than ensuring an
study or training and more varied levels and                   extension of universal access to high quality
types of support for this, with Northern Ireland               early education, the policy focus since 2017 has
offering the least support for childcare, concen-              been on affordability of childcare and reforming
trating its focus on offering early education prior            the benefit system to encourage employment.
to compulsory school entry, and England the                    Of significance is that with this policy focus,
most support for working families. In Scotland                 government support in England has shifted away
there appears to be a more holistic, integrated                from targeting low-income families towards
approach in ECEC policy which foregrounds                      targeting support at working families.
quite generous initiatives which blend both
                                                               It is worth noting that the new Biden adminis-
                                                               tration in the United States has introduced in
                                                               2021 a transformative strategy for early years
                                                               embedded within the American Jobs Plan
                                                               and the American Families Plan (The White
                                                               House, 2021). The American families plan aims
                                                               to provide universal, high quality preschool to
                                                               all three- and four-year-olds. It is stated that
                                                               pre-school and childcare providers will receive
                                                               funding to cover the true cost of quality early
                                                               childhood care and education, including a
                                                               developmentally appropriate curriculum, small
                                                               class sizes, and culturally and linguistically

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 2                                         26
responsive environments that are inclusive of                    programs and Head Start will earn at least $15
children with disabilities. The plan also aims to                per hour, and those with comparable qualifica-
provide more affordable childcare by ensuring                    tions will receive compensation commensurate
that low- and middle-income families spend                       with that of kindergarten teachers.
no more than seven percent of their income on
childcare, and that the childcare they access                    It is also noteworthy to consider the pattern
is of high-quality. The plans will also invest in                of free entitlements available internationally as
the childcare and early education workforce by                   shown in Figure 1 below. This data reveals that
providing scholarships for those who wish to                     most of the listed OECD countries offer a level
earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential                   of free entitlement that begins at a younger age
to become an early childhood educator. And,                      in most cases, and is generally unconditional or
educators will receive workplace based coach-                    universal from two to three years of age. The
ing, professional development, and wages that                    universal hours offered from two to three years
reflect the importance of their work. The inten-                 vary from 15–60 hours with most in the range
tion is that all employees participating in pre-K                of 20–25 hours.

Figure 1: International Comparison of Free Entitlements

                                          Hours/week the                                                   Hours/week the
               Age of      Entitlement to child has access                       Age of     Entitlement to child has access
Country        child       Free Access    to free childcare      Country         child      Free Access    to free childcare

Austria        5           Universal       16–20                 Korea           0–5        Unconditional   30–60
                                                                                 3–5        Unconditional   20–25
Belgium        2.5–5       Unconditional   23.3
(Flemish)                                                        Luxembourg      0–3        Conditional     3
                                                                                 3–5        Unconditional   ≤26
Belgium        0–2.5       Targeted        N/A
(French)       2.5–5       Universal       28                    Mexico          0–2        Targeted        N/A
                                                                                 3–5        Unconditional   15–20
Chile          0–2         Conditional     55
               4–5         Unconditional   22                    Netherlands     0–4        Targeted        10

Czech Republic 5           Unconditional   ≥40                   New Zealand     3–5        Unconditional   20

Finland        0–6         Conditional     50                    Norway          1–5        Conditional     20

France         0–2         Conditional     40                    Portugal        0–2        Conditional     N/A
               2.5–5       Unconditional   24                                    3–4        Unconditional   25
                                                                                 5          Unconditional   25
Ireland        0–5         Conditional     15–60
               3–5         Unconditional   15
                                                                 Slovakia        3–6        Unconditional   N/A

Italy          3–5         Unconditional   40
                                                                 Slovenia        1–5        Conditional     45
Japan          0–2         Conditional     55
               3–5         Conditional     20/50
                                                                 Sweden          1–2        None            N/A
                                                                                 3–6        Unconditional   15
Kazakhstan     1–6         Unconditional   50–60

Source: Data extracted from OECD Starting Strong 2017, Table 2.2 Characteristics of legal access entitlement (p80)

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 2                                                27
Key Points: UK Policy

   •   In England, there is an entitlement to                      15 to 30 hours and also offering childcare
       universal part-time early education for                     tax advantages and additional benefits,
       three- and four-year-olds, and targeted                     for those in employment.
       early education hours for less advantaged
                                                               • The introduction of the 30 hour entitlement
       children from the age of two.
                                                                 has created a system in which the very
   •   Since 2017 there can be seen to be a                      poorest children are given greater access
       policy shift in England to focus more on                  to funded early education and care at the
       supporting working families, rather than                  age of two, but where many of these same
       families living in poverty or disadvantage,               children are then given access to fewer
       through extending the hours of funded                     funded hours than better-off children at
       places for three and four year olds from                  the ages of three to four.

3
Review of Research on the 30 hours Entitlement Policy
In this section research evidence on the take-up,              3. What impact has the COVID pandemic had on
quality and impact on children’s development                      the development of pre-school age children,
and school readiness of the 30 hour extended                      with a particular emphasis on socio-economic
entitlement policy will be presented, along with                  gaps?;
evidence about the positionality of this policy
                                                               4. How many hours are enough? Does it need to
against other current ECEC policies, such as
                                                                  be 30, and in what pattern of delivery?
the two year old funded entitlement. It will also
include evidence addressing the following four
specified review questions:
                                                               Competing Goals
1. What is the nature of gaps in education
                                                               West (2020) provides an historic account
   development and school readiness, and what
                                                               and analysis of legislative provision of early
   impact has the current 30 hours policy had
                                                               childhood education over the twentieth century,
   on these?;
                                                               starting with the 1918 Education Act and up
2. How has the prevailing government view                      to the 2017 free entitlements, detailing the
   of early years provision as childcare rather                shift in policies and provision from providing
   than early education impacted on the quality                nursery education specifically for poor children
   of provision, for example through lack                      and disadvantaged families to universal early
   of funding?;                                                childhood education for all three- and four-
                                                               year-old children. It should be noted that whilst
                                                               Government funds early education, they share
                                                               provision of this service with private, voluntary

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                       28
and independent providers that have been                       (2020: 244) point out that although the EU has
vital in “’filling the gap’ in preschool provision”            been advocating an integrated system for over
(ibid.: 582).                                                  two decades, few countries have fully integrated
                                                               ECEC systems “widely seen as important in
Cohen and Korintus (2017) look at the ECEC                     developing quality across services and ensuring
situation in Europe from the 1970s and it is                   that services meet the needs of children, fami-
interesting to note that the driver behind ini-                lies and society”.
tiatives and the expansion of ECEC provision
was very much for enabling mothers to work as                  West and Noden (2019: 153) recognise that
opposed to providing for disadvantaged children                when Labour came to power in the UK in 1997,
as was the case in England, as mentioned above.                they inherited a mixed market economy of
Cohen and Korintus (2017: 238–239) recog-                      providers and that it was retained for pragmatic
nise, referring to work done by the European                   reasons; “the PVI infrastructure was already in
Commission Childcare Network (ECCEN) in the                    place so facilitating a rapid expansion of places”.
1980s, that many EU countries are “prisoners                   They were in a sense ‘prisoners’ of previous
of their historic roots, with one set of ‘childcare’           policies when they introduced the entitlement
services often developed as a welfare measure                  to free early education as part of their National
for working-class children needing care whilst                 Childcare Strategy and Sure Start local pro-
their parents worked, and another set of ‘early                grammes. The aim was to offer choice and
education’ services developed as kindergartens                 flexibility for balancing work and family life (DfES,
or nursery education or play groups prior to                   2004) but the mixed market economy came with
formal schooling”, what was referred to above as               inherent problems as discussed by Chen and
a split system (DEPP, 2020). Cohen and Korintus                Bradbury (2020) below.

    Key Points: Policy Focus

   •   Early childhood education and care                      •   In England, funded (maintained) provision
       (ECEC) expansion as a policy priority                       began predominantly as educational
       can be seen across Europe and elsewhere                     support for less advantaged children,
       over recent decades with mixed goals; in                    with the PVI sector developing to fulfil
       some countries it is primarily viewed as                    the need for childcare for working parents.
       providing childcare for working parents,                    These twin goals continue to challenge
       for others it is seen as a means to support                 the efficacy and quality of the multi-sector
       less advantaged children educationally,                     delivery which continues in England.
       for others it is a mix or blend of both of
                                                               • The educational value of ECEC is increas-
       these goals.
                                                                 ingly recognised in most European coun-
                                                                 tries, even those who continue to have
                                                                 a split system.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                         29
ECEC Take-up                                                   •   88% of 3- and 4-year-olds taking up the
                                                                   universal 15 hours, down from 93%;
Stewart and Reader (2020) note that take-up
                                                               •   A 5% fall in take-up of the 30 hours enti-
rates of the free entitlement for two year olds
                                                                   tlement, estimated at around 3 in 4 of
peaked in 2018 and has declined slightly from
                                                                   eligible children;
72 per cent to 69 per cent in January 2020 and
that that take-up rates of the universal offer                 • The number of children in receipt of Early
for three and four year olds has also declined                   Years Pupil Premium has risen by 6%;
slightly, from 93 to 91 per cent for three year
                                                               • Take-up of the 30 hours is lower for children
olds and 98 to 94 per cent for four year olds.
                                                                 with SEND than the universal entitlement
There is also evidence that take-up by children
                                                                 (2.8% compared to 6.3%);
with special needs or disability has been particu-
larly affected by the COVID pandemic (Disabled                 • The number of providers delivering the two-
Children Partnership, 2020). One explanation put                 year-old offer has fallen, although the number
forward by the Disabled Children’s Partnership                   of maintained nursery and primary schools
is that the 30 hours offer may have pushed                       delivering the offer has increased;
some children out of ECEC altogether but they
                                                               • The proportion of staff delivering funded
do not elaborate on why this would be the
                                                                 entitlements with a graduate level qualifica-
case. They do however point out that despite
                                                                 tion remained at 9%. 36% of PVIs (including
a steady increase in take-up of funded places
                                                                 childminders), delivering 51% of children’s
by two-year-olds in the maintained sector, that
                                                                 funded entitlements, contain at least one
of three- and four-year olds has declined, and
                                                                 graduate member of staff.
overall, data from the National Pupil Database
shows maintained nursery provision is down by
                                                               Chen and Bradbury (2020: 297) highlight the
5 per cent. This decline is attributed to children
                                                               dysfunction and inequalities of the English
who will later claim Free School Meals (FSM),
                                                               childcare market, when they state that “parental
indicating that those in poverty are less likely to
                                                               choosing behaviours do not conform to the
take up their entitlement. As Chen and Bradbury
                                                               market logic of competition and choice”. They
(2020) point out, despite maintained settings
                                                               further (2020: 287) point out that contrary to
offering higher quality provision, parental choice
                                                               findings by Grogan (2012), working middle-class
seems to be guided by practical considerations
                                                               parents in England can feel they are at a disad-
such as the age of the child, opening hours and
                                                               vantage as they are “tightly constrained to day
availability; this may result in nursery closures.
                                                               nurseries and childminders because of extended
According to Stewart and Reader’s (2020) data
                                                               service age and the opening hours they provide”.
about 63 per cent of three- and four-year-old
                                                               In other words, practical considerations such as
children not on FSM and 45 percent of children
                                                               the age of the child, term time opening hours
on FSM attended PVI settings in 2017.
                                                               and availability limit their choice of provision
                                                               and level of take-up and are often a priority over
Figures released from the DfE in July 2021
                                                               education quality and staff qualifications. The
(DfE, 2021) and analysed by Early Education
                                                               parents in Chen and Bradbury’s study tended to
(Early Education, 2021) reveal the significant
                                                               judge quality emotionally and subjectively on the
impact of Covid-19 on take-up with:
                                                               general feeling they had of a setting, rather than
                                                               taking Ofsted ratings, staff qualifications and
•   62% of vulnerable two-year-olds taking up
                                                               education quality as drivers. Chen and Bradbury
    their entitlements, down from 69% the previ-
                                                               suggest childcare choice and take-up is, as such,
    ous year, and the number of two-year-olds of
                                                               an emotive issue rather than a rational choice
    Asian origin has fallen by a third;
                                                               and high-quality nursery schools have not acted

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                        30
as a market incentive to motivate quality                      in a system where the childcare market is not
improvement as was expected. This problem,                     only split between full-time working parents and
according to the authors, is not limited to the                part-time working or stay at home parents, but
English context but is prevalent in marketised                 also has a split provision for children under three
approaches to childcare in Anglophone coun-                    and children three to five, as the English system
tries in general.                                              has. Chen and Bradbury (2012: 297) conclude
                                                               that there is in effect “little real choice for
 Albakri and colleagues (2018) also discuss                    parents, whose choosing processes are limited
 the take-up rate for the free entitlement and                 by practical concerns, including those inherent in
 group them under provider-related factors such                the ‘free hours’ policy”. Practical considerations
 as sufficiency, cost/funding and flexibility of               include its location, reputation, affordability
 provision and parent-related factors such as                  and opening hours in relation to their employ-
 personal preference, awareness of entitlements                ment needs. Degotardi and colleagues (2018)
 and eligibility. They state parent-related factors            remind us that parents should not be treated
 are influenced by disadvantage, English as an                 as a homogenous group but their research on
 additional language (EAL), ethnicity, popula-                 factors influencing choice of setting in Australia
 tion mobility, special educational needs and                  showed that working parents needing what they
 disabilities (SEND) and employment status.                    call ‘long day care’ were also mainly guided by
 Albakri and colleagues (2018: 9) identified great             pragmatic factors. Degotardi and colleagues
 variation by region with take-up lower in London              conclude providers and policy-makers should
 than other regions; however, across all areas                 still be guided by children’s right to high-quality
“children from the most disadvantaged families,                early childhood experiences.
 who stand to gain the most, are less likely to
 access the funded entitlements”. They suggest                 In the US, Bassok and colleagues (2017) noted
 that with greater flexibility of provision, support           that there was little difference in preferences
 for parents new to an area and those of children              across pre-school types in Louisiana but dif-
 with EAL and SEND together with a better                      ferences in search processes between parents
 understanding of the benefits of early education,             looking for a place in publicly funded pre-
 parents would be more likely to take up funded                schools, state funded pre-schools or subsidised
 entitlements. Albakri and colleagues do however               private settings, that varied between relying
 point out that some parents will still prefer                 on personal networks, local public schools or
 for their child to start formal early education               using advertisements and the internet. Bassok
 when their child is older thus limiting take-up               and colleagues therefore recommend, taking
 rates achievable.                                             parental needs and experiences in the choosing
                                                               process into consideration, that policy makers
According to the Starting Well report (EIU,                    need to address two points in particular: firstly,
2012) the UK was rated as offering one of                      know better if and what information parents
the best pre-school programmes globally by                     have access to in making choices, and sec-
ranking 4th out of 45 countries rated. The                     ondly, improve eligibility to and affordability
Starting Well Index assessed social context,                   of provision.
availability, affordability and quality along 21
indicators. The report stated that the UK was,                 Newman and Owen (2021) examined factors
in 2012, ahead of many countries by offering                   preventing eligible families from taking advan-
the universal entitlement for three- and four-year             tage of the two-year-old entitlement, especially
olds together with subsidies for disadvantaged                 barriers that parents with children with SEND
families. However, as the research by Chen                     face and possible solutions to these barriers.
and Bradbury revealed, league tables may                       They revealed three themes:
hide inequalities or lack of choice, especially

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                       31
1. lack of awareness and understanding in                      any impact, understanding access is crucial.
   regards to eligibility;                                     There are many factors influencing access, one
                                                               of them, according to the research by Campbell
2. fear of stigmatisation; and
                                                               and colleagues, is the availability of different
3. concerns over the ability of staff to deal                  types of settings. In England the free entitlement
   with a child’s additional needs.                            can be accessed in:

Lack of awareness is again an aspect as in the                 •   maintained nursery schools and primary
study by Bassok and colleagues (2017). Newman                      school nursery classes, collectively as ‘main-
and Owen (2021) suggest that if providers want                     tained provision’;
to overcome identified barriers they need to:
                                                               •   day nurseries run by the private, local author-
                                                                   ity or voluntary sector, some of them within
1. Restructure how they approach the families
                                                                   Sure Start children’s centres;
   by being more aware of the unequal power
   relation between them which may involve                     •   childminders; and
   using parent ‘ambassadors’ to share their
                                                               •   sessional, part-day providers.
   experiences of the free entitlement.

2. Address the ‘othering’ of families who take                 The availability of these different types of provid-
   up the two-year-old entitlement, that maybe                 ers varies widely across England but noteworthy
   only true universal access, irrespective of dis/            is that most new places created since 1997 were
   advantage, can solve.                                       in private and voluntary settings (Blanden et al.,
                                                               2016). This is an important point as there are
3. Build trust that the system can cater
                                                              “tendencies among some families to attend some
   to specific needs.
                                                               types of settings” depending on opening hours,
                                                               fees or simply by preference for one type of
The evidence indicates that policy needs to
                                                               provision over another (Campbell et al., 2016).
be more explicit about its intentions; Is it to
support child development and learning? Is it
                                                               In their study, Campbell and colleagues looked
about helping parents into work? Or both of
                                                               at the extent of take-up of the free entitle-
these aims? It is argued that a lack of coherence
                                                               ment for three- and four-year-olds using data
in policy intentions over time has led to a lack
                                                               on 205,865 children from the National Pupil
of impact and outcomes from the investments
                                                               Database (the Early Years Census and the Spring
made (Moss, 2014, Brewer et al, 2014, Paull,
                                                               Schools Census datasets). The focus was on
2014). To overcome barriers a strength-based
                                                               children accessing the full five terms they were
approach rather than a deficit approach is
                                                               eligible for before compulsory education. They
needed, according to Newman and Owen,
                                                               looked into three pupil characteristics:
where the onus is on the service provider in
making services accessible. This means promot-
                                                               1. children eligible for free school meals (FSM);
ing benefits of accessing provision for children
and families rather than a remediating approach                2. children with English as an additional
to counter disadvantage.                                          language (EAL);

                                                               3. local factors such as nature of
Campbell and colleagues (2018) recognise the
                                                                  provision available.
dual purpose of investing in ECEC; to support
maternal employment and child development
                                                               The results showed that almost one in five
through early intervention in the lives of dis-
                                                               children did not take up their full entitlement of
advantaged children in particular. However,
                                                               five terms before starting compulsory education
they point out that for interventions to have

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                       32
with a clear income gradient of non-attendance.                   “unequal duration of attendance between groups
Only 15.7 percent of children ‘never on FSM’ did                   in the terms preceding the immediately pre-
not attend on the study’s cut-off date compared                    school year. Non-attendance at the beginning
to 27.4 percent of children on FSM. Among most                     of their funded entitlement may be diluting
ethnic groups’ figures showed a similar pattern                    the potential effects of the policy on low-
of children more likely to have accessed the full                  income children.”
entitlement if they had never been on FSM. There
was a however a stronger effect on low income in               Quantity together with staff qualifications may as
English-only than EAL households (Campbell et                  such be important factors. Blanden and colleagues
al., 2018: 526). FSM status, EAL and ethnic back-              recommend higher quality requirements, particularly
ground are as such important factors influencing               in relation to staff qualifications, are needed for
take-up. “Having English as an additional lan-                 private nurseries serving poorer children in England
guage, or being English-speaking and persistently              if the free entitlement is to have greater effect. If
poor, are both predictors of non-attendance”                   this does not happen, Blanden and colleagues, as
(Campbell et al., 2018: 526).                                  Campbell and colleagues (2018: 537), fear the free
                                                               entitlement to 30 hours for children of working
 As to local factors such as provision available,              parents will further disadvantage children from
“over-all, the picture suggests the value of a mix             low-income families by “increasing the extent to
 of different types of provision in promoting take-            which subsidies for early education are concen-
 up, and particularly the importance of having                 trated disproportionately on children who least
 even a small share in the voluntary sector and                need a head start”. In the policy review by Akhal
 in Sure Start children’s centres” (535).                      and colleagues (2019), they recognise there is a
                                                               wide variation across local authorities in the take-up
The above points are important for understand-                 of two-year-old places where in some authorities
ing take-up; however, Blanden and colleagues                   there had been a slowing down of the take-up of
(2016: 718) found when comparing child out-                    the two-year-old entitlement, possibly due to the
comes of children taking up the free entitlement               difference in delivery costs and the prioritisation of
for three- and four-year-olds (at the age of five,             the three- and four-year-old entitlements.
seven and eleven) that “disadvantaged children
do not benefit substantively more from the free                A study conducted in Scotland on the take-up of
entitlement than their more affluent peers”. They              places for eligible two-year-olds revealed that:
suggest it may be because all new places created
under the policy were in the private sector which                 “the major barrier to uptake is lack of aware-
is less regulated with lower levels of graduate                    ness – rather than opposition to the concept,
staff. Blanden and colleagues (ibid.) state:                       problems with the application process or
                                                                   dissatisfaction with the nature of the provision”
   “There is evidence that private nurseries                       (Scottish Government, 2017: 4).
    which serve poorer children are particularly
    bad on these measures [employing graduate                  The study also noted that the offer was promoted
    teachers], helping to explain why the policy               through professionals (mainly health visitors),
    did not have the expected success in reduc-                advertising and word of mouth, and of the three,
    ing gaps in cognitive development between                  the importance of contact between the profession-
    children from different backgrounds.”                      als and eligible families was the most important
                                                               means. All the above findings have important policy
Campbell and colleagues (2018: 536) suggest                    implications in that extending universal provision
another explanation may lie in the fact that                   is important in creating a more equitable start for
there is:                                                      children of low-income families.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                       33
Key Points: ECEC Take-up in England

   • Take-up rates of the free entitlement for                 •   Research suggests that with greater flexi-
     two-year-olds and the universal offer for                     bility of provision, support for parents new
     three and four year olds in all sectors                       to an area and those of children with EAL
     has declined significantly over the last                      and SEND together with a better under-
     year due to Covid-19. There is signifi-                       standing of the benefits of early education,
     cant variation in take-up by region and                       parents would be more likely to take up
     socio-economic status. Take-up rates for                      funded entitlements. Some parents will
     children with special needs and disability                    still prefer for their child to start formal
     have been particularly affected by the                        early education when their child is older
     COVID pandemic.                                               thus limiting take-up rates achievable.

   •   Childcare choice and take-up is influenced              •   For parents with children with SEND there
       by both provider-related factors such as                    are additional barriers to take-up, includ-
       sufficiency, cost/funding and flexibility                   ing lack of awareness and understanding
       of provision and parent-related factors                     with regard to eligibility; fear of stigma-
       such as personal preference, awareness                      tisation; and concerns over the ability of
       of entitlements and eligibility. The issue of               staff to deal with a child’s additional needs.
       quality does not appear to be a factor in
                                                               • There is some evidence that lack of
       parent choice and take-up, meaning the
                                                                 impact on child outcomes, particularly for
       market is not driving sector improvement
                                                                 disadvantaged children, may be due to
       or enhanced access.
                                                                 lower hours of access and lower qualifi-
   •   Parent-related factors are influenced                     cations of staff in settings serving these
       by disadvantage, English as an                            communities. It is suggested that action
       additional language (EAL), ethnicity,                     on enhancing staff qualifications across
       population mobility, special educational                  the sector is needed if free entitlements
       needs and disabilities (SEND) and                         are not to further disadvantage the
       employment status.                                        less advantaged.

ECEC Quality                                                   initiatives, overall qualification levels in the ECEC
                                                               workforce are declining (Pascal at el 2020).
Campbell and colleagues (2018) point out                       Stewart and Reader (2020) also note there has
that following the roll-out of funded places,                  been a general decline in children attending
the introduction of the statutory early years                  voluntary pre-schools and an increase in children
foundation stage (EYFS) (from birth to five) and               attending private day nurseries, where qualifi-
the development of the ECEC workforce are                      cation levels are comparatively low but as this
examples of how successive governments have                    trend started long before the free entitlements
tried to improve the quality of provision in all               in 2017, see Figure 2, this cannot be attributed to
sectors. However, despite successive workforce                 the policy from 2017.

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                           34
Figure 2: Three and four year olds in PVI sector by FSM status

                                                  Three- and four-year-olds who go on to receive free school meals
                                                                (excluding those in Reception class)
                                     35%
  attending funded early education
   % of three- and four-year-olds

                                     30%
     (excluding Reception class)

                                     25%

                                     20%

                                     15%

                                     10%

                                     5%

                                     0%
                                           2010        2011          2012        2013        2014          2015         2016      2017

                                                       All other three- and four-year-olds (excluding Reception)
                                     35%
  attending funded early education
   % of three- and four-year-olds

                                     30%
     (excluding Reception class)

                                     25%

                                     20%

                                     15%

                                     10%

                                     5%

                                     0%
                                           2010        2011          2012        2013        2014          2015         2016      2017

                                            Private day nursery             Private pre-school             Voluntary pre-school

                                            Other including childminder            Voluntary day nursery

                                             Sure Start (main or linked)

Source: Stewart and Reader (2020: 58) interpretation of the National Pupil Database

Of concern is the fact that, “the falling share of                                 a mixed economy of providers has come at the
children eligible for free school meals attending                                  expense of staff quality, a prerequisite for long-
maintained settings means a substantial drop in                                    term benefits for children”.
the share of children from low-income house-
holds with access to a QTS [qualified teacher]”                                    Child development as identified through the
(Stewart and Reader, 2020: 60). This is impor-                                     EYFSP data can be used to measure cogni-
tant as level of staff qualification is an important                               tive and social development and in how the
indicator of quality. The EPPE study showed                                        attainment gap is narrowing or widening by
that provision needs to be high quality to ensure                                  comparing children on FSM and children who
it promotes children’s development (Sammons,                                       are not. Evidence reveals that the gap in the
2010; Sylva, 2010; Mathers et al., 2014). West                                     EYFSP scores had been closing up to 2017 but
and Noden (2019: 163) believe “the government                                      has since started to widen again (Hutchinson
focus on increasing the availability of places via                                 et al, 2019; Stewart and Reader,2020). The gap

A Fair Start? > What do we know about the 30 hour entitlement > Section 3                                                                35
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