Plans to cease regulating child care for some five- to eight-year-olds have been dropped in the face of mounting opposition from the child care sector, children’s minister Beverley Hughes confirmed today.
Speaking at the annual Daycare Trust conference in London, Hughes said the proposed Ofsted Childcare Register would now be compulsory for all child care providers working with children up to the age of 8.
Initial plans in the child care bill consultation would have meant that non-school-based providers offering group child care to over-fives would not have had to register with the education and care watchdog.
However, the proposal was immediately met with widespread concern about the potential creation of a two-tier system and the exposure of some five- to eight-year-olds to unnecessary risk.
Announcing the u-turn, Hughes said that ensuring children were safe when receiving child care was a key concern for all.
“Registration will be compulsory for child care providers for children up to age eight, while remaining voluntary for those providing care for children up to 14,” she said. “This fits with our overall aim for the [Child Care] Bill that it should drive up quality, ensure children are safe and simplify the existing bureaucratic regime.”
Hughes added that the bill, which will also introduce a single quality framework integrating care and learning from birth to the end of foundation stage, would be published “as soon as possible” in the current Parliamentary session.
The bill will also place a duty on all local authorities to secure sufficient child care provision to meet the needs of working parents, and better access to integrated early years services.