Frontier report provides new evidence on the cost of delivering early education

The Department for Education (DfE) today published a report commissioned from Frontier (Europe) presenting new evidence on the costs of delivering early education. This report is part of the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) being undertaken by a consortium of NatCen Social Research, 4Children, Oxford University and Frontier.

The analysis uses data collected from 166 early education settings from across England to examine how delivery costs vary by the age of child and local area and setting characteristics. It also examines the patterns in revenue sources, including the contribution made by free places funded by the Free Early Education Entitlement.

The key findings are:

  • The hourly cost of delivery is lower for older pre-school children, but the differences are smaller than might be expected from statutory staff-to-child ratios.
  • Hourly cost is directly influenced by the type of provider, region, size of setting, child age profile and month in the school year. However, there is no evidence that other factors, including quality of provision, have a significant impact.
  • Almost all funding is from parental fees and the free early education entitlement. Settings received a higher hourly rate from the FEEE than from parental fees for two-year-olds, on average. This is reversed for three- and four-year-olds.
  • Additional costs for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) vary considerably across the type of need, with most of the additional cost due to the need for extra staff during sessions. Additional funding for children with SEND tends to be insufficient to cover these additional costs.

Frontier regularly advises clients in the public sector on issues related to early education and childcare policy.

For more information, please contact or call +44 (0) 20 7031 7000