The Early Years Single Funding Formula (EYSFF) reforms mean that all local authorities must provide funding for free nursery education for 3 and 4 year olds.
As of September 1, 2012, local authorities must secure availability of 15 hours per week for all eligible children, over at least 38 weeks each year, from the eligible date following their 3rd birthday (1st January, 1st April or 1st September) until they reach compulsory school age (the beginning of the term following their 5th birthday).
This is the equivalent of 6 terms free pre-school education (up to 15 hours) for each child — BUT very, very few children use their full allowance because they have already entered Reception Class in Primary School before reaching compulsory school age.
Autumn born children use 5 terms of their EYE entitlement.
Spring born children use 4 terms of their EYE entitlement.
Summer born children use 3 terms (just half) of their EYE entitlement.
Aside from demonstrating that even before starting school, autumn born children have been exposed to more formal learning than summer born children (if wanted, since taking up this free provision is not compulsory), it is very interesting to look at the difference that EYE funding and Primary School admissions practice can have on the final overall cost of a child’s primary education:
Funding for EYE + Primary School Education (PSE), Per Child
*Autumn born entering Reception Class age 4 = 5 terms EYE + 21 terms PSE = 26 total
*Spring born entering Reception Class age 4 = 4 terms EYE + 21 terms PSE = 25 total
*Summer born entering Reception Class age 4 = 3 terms EYE + 21 terms PSE = 24 total
*Summer born entering Reception Class age 5 = 6 terms EYE + 21 terms PSE = 27 total
*Summer born entering Year 1 Class age 5 = 6 terms EYE + 18 terms PSE = 24 total
Evidently, there are cost savings to be made for local authorities if a child is not allowed to enter Reception Class once they reach compulsory school age, since a Year 1 start is much cheaper.
But if this is one of the reasons children are being denied access to a FULL primary school education, why not consider altering the EYE provision so that parents can choose whether they want funding for nursery or primary school? Obviously, 15 hours free provision for EYE may still be cheaper for local authorities than a full-time school place, but for the minority of parents who feel strongly enough that they want their child to enter Reception Class at compulsory school age only, I am confident that the funding suggestion below (i.e. EYE free provision for 3 terms only) would be acceptable, and moreover, welcome:
*Summer born entering Reception Class age 5 = 3 terms EYE + 21 terms PSE = 24 total
It’s still cheaper than the cost of provision for either an autumn or spring born child, and the EYE provision is equal to what most summer born children receive when entering Reception Class early anyway…
There really are solutions to this perceived problem; what we need now is action.
Pauline M Hull
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