Section 46: Definition of early learning and childcare
Early learning and childcare is defined in section 46 of the 2014 Act as 'a service, consisting of education and care, of a kind which is suitable in the ordinary case for children who are under school age, regard being had to the importance of interactions and other experiences which support learning and development in a caring and nurturing setting'.
28. Early learning and childcare, as defined in the 2014 Act, removed the artificial divide between pre-school for 3 and 4 year olds (seen as the educational element delivered in short blocks tied to a certain number of hours in a day), and wrap‑around care or childcare for 3 and 4 year olds (seen as less important to learning, and something that is used to top up the pre-school hours). It recognises the role that responsive care, regardless of how it is funded, plays in supporting children's development.
29. This term seeks to emphasise the holistic and seamless provision of nurture, care and development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills, abilities and wellbeing.
30. Play, as outlined in the national practice guidance 'Realising the Ambition', will continue to be an essential and fundamental part of children's learning and happiness. Early learning and childcare providers should ensure that all children have play experiences as part of their daily lives, as enshrined in Article 31 (Leisure, play and culture) of the UNCRC.