Review into early years childcare providers, seeking to understand regulatory burdens to business
As part of the Cutting Red Tape programme, a review was conducted between April and December 2016, seeking to identify barriers to growth and productivity in the childcare sector. The review received evidence from over 250 stakeholders; ranging from individual child-minders and micro-businesses with fewer than 10 staff, to much larger, multinational businesses with numerous nurseries and day care centres employing thousands of staff.
The report from the Cutting Red Tape review of the childcare sector has now been published, including the Government’s response.
The review identified a range of regulatory burdens currently felt by the childcare sector, relating to inspections, guidance, paperwork, workforce skills and learning and development.
The Government has welcomed the findings from the review and has responded with a range of commitments that directly address the concerns voiced by the sector. These commitments will deliver real change to regulation and the way it is enforced within the childcare sector; ranging from the development of a ‘myth-buster’ document to address and dispel confusion around the inspections process, to the reduction of duplication in paperwork, particularly between Local Authorities and Ofsted.
The report on the review findings and the Government’s response is published today. The review has identified 14 findings, for example:
• Inspections: there are inconsistencies between inspectors and a need for a balanced and targeted inspection regime, where consistent good performers are rewarded.
• Relationship with the Local Authority: the current relationship between private, voluntary and independent childcare providers and their Local Authorities is inconsistent across the country and often incongruous with OFSTED’s regulatory regime
• Workforce skills: there is a view that the current qualifications requirements restrict the career progression of capable staff and make the recruitment and retention of staff more difficult.
• Learning and development: there is a lack of clarity on what training is required by legislation, which has been compounded by a reduction in the amount of statutory training available.
• Paperwork: the sector has seen an increase in assessment paperwork and duplication/overlap in requests for information.
• Guidance: can be difficult to understand and locate, while needing to be more specific and targeted.
In response to these findings, the Government has committed to a range of measures, for example:
• Inspections: Government will develop a ‘myth-buster’ document to clarify those statutory requirements with which providers need to be familiar before inspections and publicise and share this document with early years providers by April 2017. This will set out the key documents and information that providers must make available at inspection, to address and dispel misconceptions about the process.
• Relationship with the Local Authority: Government will develop a new model agreement between providers and Local Authorities with standard clauses to simplify requirements and processes and make these more consistent across the country by January 2017.
• Workforce skills: Government will use responses received to the consultation on GCSE requirements for early years workers (published 5 November 2016) to inform a decision on whether to adjust the current requirements, publishing a response by February 2017.
• Learning and development: Government will review the extent and rationale for full refresher training by April 2017 and develop an online package of business support tools and advice, thorough gov.uk, aimed particularly at smaller providers who may have less access to established training programmes.
• Paperwork: Government will address duplication at local level, including taking action to dispel misconceptions about Local Authorities’ role in registration of providers and any additional data Local Authorities might be asking for that goes beyond that already held and supplied by Ofsted.
• Guidance: Government will engage further with businesses to clarify specific issues around complexity of guidance by July 2017 and commit immediately to providing better emphasis on changes in departmental guidance, by highlighting changes and identifying relevance to particular types of child carer where appropriate, possibly as a table or summary. This could follow the example already set in Ofsted’s Registration Handbook.