To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent estimate he has made of the number of children using (a) the 15 hour free early years entitlement for (i) the most disadvantaged two year olds and (ii) parents of three and four year olds and (b) the 30 hour early years entitlement for working parents of three and four year olds in each of the four most recent weeks for which data is available.
The government is planning to spend more than £3.6 billion on early education entitlements in 2020-21. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, take up of the entitlements was positive with near universal take up of the 15 hours for all 3 and 4 year olds (91% of 3 year olds and 94% of 4 year olds (including reception)) in January 2020.
The department collects data about take up of the entitlements on an annual basis through the Early Years Census. These annual reports are published here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/education-provision-children-under-5. The next census is due to take place in January 2021.
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the department introduced weekly data collection from local authorities to record the number of pre-school aged children attending childcare. This data is published on a weekly basis and the reports are available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. In order to minimise the administrative burden on local government during the COVID-19 outbreak, this weekly data collection does not distinguish attendance by age of child or between children taking up entitlements and children whose parents have paid for a childcare place.
It was estimated that 801,000 children were attending early years childcare settings on 12 November 2020, around 61% of the number of children who usually attend childcare in term time. On a typical day in the autumn term attendance is expected to be around 887,000, due to different and part-time patterns of childcare during the week. It is therefore estimated that the 801,000 children currently attending early years settings is approximately 90% of the usual daily level.