The cost and funding of early education
Since the late 1990s, childcare policy in the UK has developed rapidly in two directions with the introduction of free early education for pre-school children to improve early child development and school readiness at age four and with the provision of financial support for the costs of childcare to enable and encourage parents to undertake paid employment.
Robust evidence on the costs of delivering early education and childcare can help improve policy design for both these strands and allow measurement of the value for money of the policies. Recent reports have presented evidence on the costs of delivery and funding levels (NLH Partnership (2015) and Ceeda (2014) and reviewed the drivers of costs (Department for Education (2015a). This report provides further analysis using data from a survey of 166 childcare and early years settings covering all types of providers in England. This detailed data set allows a robust examination of the relationships between costs and a broad range of setting and local characteristics.
This study also contains a specific element on the cost and revenue for early education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This work is part of the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED), a major eight year study commissioned by the Department for Education to explore how childcare and early education can give children the best start in life and the factors which are important for the delivery of high quality provision.
The study is being undertaken by NatCen Social Research, the University of Oxford, 4Children and Frontier Economics and is due for completion in 2020. This report is the first output from the value for money component. The collection of cost data was originally intended only to provide information for the cost side of the value for money analysis, but was extended to a larger survey with a wider remit to address broader questions about costs and funding for early education policy.