Supplementary memorandum submitted by Early Education


The British Association for Early Childhood Education (Early Education) is the leading independent UK wide charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to early education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight, advising parents, central and local government and through the media. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit



The Early Years Single Funding Formula

1. In June 2007, the Government announced that local authorities in England will be required to design and implement an Early Years Single Funding Formula for funding the Free Entitlement to early years provision for three and four year olds across all sectors. The aim is to improve the fairness and transparency in the way that funding is allocated to providers delivering the Free Entitlement and thereby support its extension to 15 hours, to be delivered more flexibly from September 2010.


The implementation of the Early Years Single Funding Formula to date

2. As local authorities in England have sought to establish their Early Years Single Funding Formula, there have been significant concerns raised about the impact of the implementation of the Single Funding Formula. Many schools and settings who have contacted Early Education have been reluctant to make their concerns public.  As a consequence, evidence has been submitted anonymously in order to protect the identity of the school setting.


3. Many of those working in the maintained sector are reporting that they are increasingly being threatened with closure or significant budget cuts - many with immediate effect. Appendix One of this submission is a dossier of evidence from 26 maintained nursery schools or nursery classes in primary schools. The evidence demonstrates the impact that the changes created by the Early Years Single Funding Formula will have on the children, their families, the staff in the school, the budget of the school and the quality of learning and teaching that is undertaken in the school.


4. Appendix One represents a significant body of evidence that demonstrates that for the most part, the formulas being proposed and adopted by local authorities will have significant and adverse consequences on the teaching, learning and services that these high quality, effective schools currently deliver to support many of the most disadvantaged children and families in England. It is evident that the majority of the Early Years Single Funding Formula that are being proposed by local authorities are going to adversely affect those children who have been identified as being vulnerable and at risk, those with special education needs and the parents and families who benefit from the support that this existing high quality provision provides.


5. Appendix Two to this submission demonstrates the impact of the Early Years Single Funding Formula on a setting in the private, voluntary and independent sector. While the initial impact of the implementation of the Early Years Single Funding Formula is less dramatic on the children accessing their early education in private, independent and voluntary settings, the evidence contained in Appendix Two demonstrates that there is likely to be little gain through the implementation of the Early Years Single Funding Formula for the majority in the private, voluntary and independent sectors in order to support the improvement of quality across all provision.


6. There is little evidence that local authorities are being supported or rigorously monitored to ensure that the aims of the Early Years Single Funding Formula are genuinely achieved across all sectors. A significant proportion of Early Education members at this point in time have been unable to describe the impact of the Early Years Single Funding Formula on their schools and settings, as at present, the local authority is yet to determine the base rates and any additional supplements. Many have only recently begun to consult again for the second time and this puts them significantly behind the expected implementation timetable as described in the Department for Children, Schools and Families guidance. There is also an emerging sense that the full impact of the implementation of the Early Years Single Funding Formula on maintained nursery classes in primary schools, is only just beginning to be understood and that there is likely to be a detrimental effect on much of this provision as well.


7. There is little evidence in Appendix One to suggest that to date, the Minister for Children's letter (29th October 2009) to Directors of Children's Services which categorically states that 'the single funding formula should not be used as a vehicle to close, or close by strangulation, good quality nursery school provision' is being acknowledged or that the presumption against closure of nursery schools remains, even if the method of funding them is changing.



8. The effectiveness of maintained nursery schools, confirmed by the recently published Ofsted Annual Report appears to have little or no bearing on the decisions being made by the local authorities of those nursery schools who have provided evidence. Equally, the evidence provided so far by maintained nursery schools shows that few maintained nursery schools are valued for the role that they play engaging with and supporting the overall improvement of quality in the early years - particularly in private, voluntary and independent learning and childcare settings. There is little evidence that despite many of the maintained nursery schools who have provided evidence being judged as 'outstanding' by Ofsted, that they are valued and engaged as models of effective practice, and as a resource to improve the leadership, pedagogy and practice across all sectors.


9. There is significant evidence that over the past ten years there has been substantial investment in many of these maintained nursery schools as they have developed into integrated children's centres or evolved to deliver further extended provision. It is apparent that if the Early Years Single Funding Formula is implemented as many of these local authorities have already notified or proposed, a decade of investment benefiting the most disadvantaged children and their families is at risk and the highest quality and most effective early education provision will be lost - in some cases, almost overnight.


The potential long term impact of the Early Years Single Funding Formula

10. Early Education is clear from the international academic research that failure to invest or maintain investment in young children has long-term costs. These include school failure and lower achievement; poor physical and mental health; lower workforce productivity and; crime and delinquency. Economic benefits far exceed the costs. High quality provision is necessary for significant economic returns, but where the quality is meagre, the investment in the provision is likely to be far less effective. Ensuring quality must be an essential component of public programme investment. (Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Woodhead, M. (Eds.) (2009).


11. As it is presently proposed, the implementation of the Early Years Single Funding Formula risks undoing the benefits of the significant investment that the present government has made in childcare, the early years, Sure Start and Children's Centres. For many disadvantaged children, the quality of their early childhood education and care has a significant and long-term influence on their educational performance and life chances (Sylva et al, 2004; Schweinhart et al, 2005). Any desired 'levelling of the playing field' must take into consideration, the differences in the quality of the early learning experiences on offer as well as the impact of poverty, ill health and other adversities. These disadvantages are beyond the control of the individual child and their family and social justice therefore demands that adequate provisions should be made (Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Woodhead, M. (Eds.) (2009).


December 2009




Schweinhart, L.J., Montie J., Xiang, Z., Barnett, W.S., Belfield, C.R. and Nores, M. (2005). Lifetime Effects: The HighScope Perry Preschool Study through age 40, Ypsilanti, MI, Highscope Press.


Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Woodhead, M. (Eds.) (2009) Effective Early Childhood Programmes, Early Childhood in Focus 4, Milton Keynes, Open University and Bernard van Leer Foundation.


Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I, & Taggart, B. (2004). The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project: Final Report. London: DfES/Institute of Education, University of London.