The Department for Education
Policy summary: Improving the quality
and range of education and childcare
from birth to 5 years
February 2014
Government Context
• Research shows that providing children with good quality
education and care in their earliest years can help them
succeed at school and later in life. Affordable and easily
accessible childcare is crucial for working families. It can
create more opportunities for women who wish, or need,
to work and raise children at the same time.
• The DfE believe they can improve early education by
building a stronger and better qualified early years
workforce. The DfE will also aim to provide more good
quality childcare which is affordable.
• September 2010: all 3- and 4-year-olds became entitled to 15
hours a week of state-funded early education
- 96% now take up some or all of their entitlement.
• July 2011: the DfE asked Professor Cathy Nutbrown to lead a
review of qualifications for the early education workforce. The
report and recommendations ‘Foundations for Quality’ were
published 19 June 2012.
• 27 March 2012: DfE publish simpler EYFS framework, starting
in September 2012.
• January 2013: the DfE publish ‘More Great Childcare’.
• March 2013: DfE announce tax-free childcare from 2015 which
provides 20% of childcare costs up to £1,200 per child p.a.
• July 2013: DfE publish ‘More Affordable Childcare’ and
updated statutory guidance for LAs on early education and
childcare. National College for Teaching and Leadership
publish new criteria for qualifications for early years
educators and ‘Early years Teachers’ Standards’.
• 2 August 2013: Ofsted publish response to consultation on
improving inspection of early years providers.
• September 2013: the 20% most disadvantaged 2-year-olds
are also entitled to 15 hours a week of early education.
• September 2014: the number of early learning places for 2year-olds will be extended further, to around 260,000
• introducing free early learning for the 20% most
disadvantaged 2-year olds, Nov 2011 – Feb 2012
• extending free early learning to 40% of 2-year-olds, July
2012 – Oct 2012
• level of qualifications that would enable the DfE to relax the
limits on the number of children each member of staff in a
nursery can look after, Jan 2013 – March 2013
• changing the role local authorities play in early education
and childcare, March 2013 – May 2013
• introducing a baseline check for children at the start of their
time in reception, July 2013 – Oct 2013
• simplifying childcare regulations to remove burdens and
simplify processes, July 2013 – Sept 2013
• introducing tax-free childcare for working families and
additional assistance with childcare for parents through
Universal Credit, Aug 2013 – Sept 2013
• changing planning rules to allow a much wider range of
buildings to be converted to nurseries, Aug 2013 – Oct 2013
Bills and legislation
• The Childcare Act 2006, as amended by the ASCL 2009.
• Local Authority (Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of
Charge) Regulations 2012
• The EYFS (Learning and Development Requirements)
(Amendment) Order 2012
• The EYFS (Welfare Requirements) Regulations 2012
• The EYFS (Exemptions from Learning and Development
Requirements) Regulations 2008 as amended by The EYFS
(Exemptions from Learning and Development Requirements)
(Amendment) 2012, which came into force on October 2012
• The Children and Families Bill

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