Only 50% of children guaranteed two years of government-funded nursery provision

Shock new figures expose scale of inequality in nursery provision

Only 50% of children guaranteed two years of government-funded nursery provision
 
Reform Scotland, the independent non-party think-tank, has today released new figures which expose the extent of the current unfairness in the legal entitlement to nursery provision in Scotland.  This is an issue it first highlighted in its report ‘An Equal Start: Fair access to nursery provision’, published in January and its July Bulletin, which revealed that the amount of nursery provision for each child depended on their birthday.  As a result, a child’s current legal entitlement to government-funded nursery provision can vary by up to 317 hours or £1,033 towards the cost of a partnership provider. Under expansion provisions included in the Children & Young People Bill, this gap will widen to 400 hours or £1,305.

The Scottish Government’s Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill is set to be considered by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (21st November).  The Education and Culture Committee’s Stage one report (para 162) stated that the Scottish Government had “confirmed its policy intention was for the current entitlement to continue”. Reform Scotland does not think that the Scottish Government should be content for such inequality of provision to remain. 

Now new figures released by Reform Scotland show that only 50% of children born in 2011 and 2012 will be guaranteed the government’s stated ambition for two years of nursery provision.

In the First Minister’s party conference speech earlier this year he said “For every young mum and dad juggling work and parenthood, this SNP Government is here for you and your family.” However, for young mums and dads with children who are not born between March and August, the government is currently placing them at a significant disadvantage.

Commenting, Alison Payne, Research Director of Reform Scotland, said:

“The Education Committee has noted our call for fair and equal access to nursery provision and an end to birthday discrimination. They have rightly been surprised that the Scottish Government has not yet used the opportunity of the Children and Young People Bill to end this inequality.

“However, these new figures will come as a shock to many people and  the cause of the unfairness can be easily remedied. Parliament can right this wrong.

“The solution is simple – just as all children are entitled to seven years of primary education irrespective of their date of birth, they should be entitled to a basic two years of government-funded nursery provision.  To achieve this, Reform Scotland believes that nursery provision should start at a fixed point in the year, probably in August, just as it does for school.

“Our solution would ensure that all children had a legal entitlement to two year’s government funded nursery provision and looked after children would receive a full additional year’s provision.  If the SNP Government is really here “for every young mum and dad” as the First Minister stated, then how can it possibly do otherwise.”
 
ENDS
 
Notes to editors:

1.     New figures highlighting the scale of unfairness in the legal entitlement to government-funded nursery provision.

Child’s birthday

Entitlement to government-funded nursery provision begins

Total nursery entitlement before beginning school

Approximate entitlement in hours, under current 475 hours per year 1

Approximate entitlement in hours, under 600 hours per year 2

Approximate financial entitlement for partnership provision under 475 hours 3

Approximate financial entitlement for partnership provision under 600 hours4

Number   and percentage of births registered in 2012
– provision starts in 20155

Number and percentage of births registered in 2011
– provision starts in 20146

1 Mar to 31 Aug

August/ Autumn Term

2 years

950 hours

1,200 hours

£3,100

£3,916

28,980
50.0%

29,374
50.1%

1 Sept to 31 Dec

January/ Spring Term

18 months

792 hours

1,000 hours

£2,583

£3,263

18,627
32.2%

18,560
 31.7%

1 Jan to 28 Feb
(Assuming child starts school at 4)

April/
Summer Term

15 months

633 hours

800 hours

£2,067

£2,611

10,300
17.8%

10,658
 18.2%

1. We have approximated the hours based on an each of the three terms being equal, therefore 158.3 hours per term


2. We have approximated the hours based on an each of the three terms being equal, therefore 200 hours per term


3. The figures for partnership funding are an estimate and based on Edinburgh Council’s pre-school funding for 3 and 4 year olds of £1,550 per year/£516.65 per term: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/8809/pre-school_funding_leaflet


4.We have used the figures from Edinburgh Council’s pre-school funding for 3 and 4 year olds of £1,550 per year/£516.65 per term for 475 hours, which works out at £3.26 per hour to estimate figures of £1,958 per year/ £652.67 per term


5. Taken from the weekly birth registrations from the National Records of Scotland http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/general/weekly-monthly-births-death-data/weekly/index.html.

 
What the table shows:

  • Only 50 per cent of children are guaranteed the legal entitlement to two full years of government funded nursery provision.
  • According to the Growing up in Scotland research, Early Experiences of Primary School, published in 2012, just under 50 per cent of children born in January or February deferred entry for starting school in 2009.  If the deferral rate remained the same, only 59 per cent of children born in 2011 and 2012 would in practice receive the full two years, or 1,200 hours provision.  However, the children who are not deferred would receive 400 hours less than the Scottish Government’s 600 hours a year policy, or their parents will receive about £1,305 less towards a partnership nursery.

 
2.     You can download the July bulletin here and An Equal Start here.
3.    Children in Scotland has supported Reform Scotland’s calls to end birthday discrimination.  Its press release from January 2013 can be viewed here.