Report of the Service Director, Children and
Families requesting that the Panel note the overview of Early Years
provision in Southampton.
The Panel received and noted the report of the Director of Children and Families which recommended that the Panel noted the overview of Early Years provision in the City.
Following discussions with Councillor Paffey, Cabinet Member for Aspiration, Schools and Lifelong Learning, Hilary Brooks, Director of Children and Families, Derek Wiles, Service Lead – Education and Anne Downie, Team Manager, Early Years and Childcare, it was noted that:
· An increased number of eligible 2 year olds in Southampton had not received the early years offer;
· A number of providers had opted to accept 3 and 4 year olds through the extended offer rather than eligible 2 year olds. This was partly explained by 2 year olds being more expensive because they required a higher ratio of staff to children;
· Difficulties recruiting suitable staff had limited the ability of some providers to expand;
· The take up of childminders was still a concern. For some 2 year olds this was the most appropriate setting and the Council would continue to promote the use of childminders;
· Budget pressures had resulted in the Council reducing the level of available support to early year’s settings in Southampton. There were concerns that this would have an impact on Ofsted ratings and Early Years Foundation Stage results moving forward;
· At the Partnership event in May 2018 champions for each cluster hub had been identified. It was envisaged that these hubs would encourage collaboration by providers across a geographical area supporting initiatives such as shared training and shared bank staff;
· Reflecting the financial pressures being experienced by a number of providers, concerns were raised about the long term viability of the sector in Southampton.