To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment has been made of the effect of the 30 hours free childcare scheme on educational performance in children.
The 30 hours entitlement is intended to support working families with access to high quality, affordable childcare. We are clear that the 30 hours entitlement aims to support working families with the cost of childcare, and to support parents back into work, or to work more hours should they wish to do so. Therefore, we have not made any assessment of the effect of the entitlement on educational performance.
The latest research in ‘Study of early education and development’ shows that cognitive and socio-emotional developmental benefits were seen to be associated with use of early education and care between ages 2 and age 4, however there is no clear optimal number of hours for a child to spend in early years provision. A link to the study can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/study-of-early-education-and-development-seed.
Access to early education is vital to ensuring all children to have the best start in life, which is why we provide 15 hours of free early education for all 3 and 4-year olds and the most disadvantaged 2-year olds. This is why we plan to spend around £3.5 billion on our early education entitlements this year alone.