Parents' views and use of early learning and childcare: report

Information on parents’ and carers’ current use, future potential use, views and experiences of early learning and childcare.


Likely future use of 1140 hours

This section considers whether parents would hypothetically use the 1140 hours expanded entitlement.

As discussed earlier (see " Accessibility of ELC"), the majority of parents with eligible children were aware of the planned expansion in entitlement. Around three quarters had heard of the expansion, although only around half of those with eligible children were "definitely" aware.

A large majority (90%) of those with an eligible child said they would use at least some of the additional hours if the expanded entitlement were available now (and offered the flexibility required). Most would use all or almost all of the 1140 hours (75% of those with eligible children); 75% of parents stated they would use the full entitlement for a 3 or 4-year-old, compared to 67% for a 2-year-old.

There remained 10% of parents with eligible children who would not expect to use any additional hours over the current 600 entitlement, even if the full 1140 were available and they were able to find suitable provision. Parents were more likely to indicate this for a 2-year-old (18%).

Figure 24: Likely future uptake of expanded entitlement

Figure 24: Likely future uptake of expanded entitlement

Motivations for using expanded entitlement

Survey data showed some variation in the extent to which parents would use the expanded entitlement – although the majority across all key groups would use at least some of the additional hours. Regression analysis has been used to identify the factors that have the greatest impact on parents' likely future uptake of the 1140 hours.

Results showed that the number of hours used, whether and how much parents pay for ELC, and the mix of funded/paid/informal ELC used have the closest correlation with parents' expected uptake of the 1140 hours. In particular, the groups most likely to intend to use the full expanded entitlement were those currently using more hours of ELC per week, those currently spending £100 or more per month on ELC, and those currently using paid and/or informal ELC. These findings and other key drivers are displayed at Figure 25.

Figure 25: Key drivers of future uptake of expanded hours (all parents)

Most significant drivers

Number of hours of ELC currently used

Current spend on ELC

Whether parents currently pay for ELC

Whether parents use funded, paid and/or informal provision

Other factors showing a significant correlation

Experience of any affordability difficulties

Number of adults in employment

Whether parents have eligible children

Number of children in household/whether includes children aged 6+

The minority of parents who would not expect to use all or almost all of the 1140 hours were also asked about any factors that might prevent them from making use of the full entitlement. The most common reasons selected are that their child would not be ready for additional hours, a preference to look after their child at home, a view that additional hours would not be good for their child's wellbeing and development, and not having any need for additional hours of ELC.

Figure 26: Reasons for not planning to use additional hours
(parent with eligible children who do not expect to use any additional hours)

Would use only part of additional hours (n=649)

Would not use any additional hours (n=227)

Children should not be in nursery so long (70%)

Do not need so many hours (67%)

Not good for relationship with child (46%)

Not good for child's wellbeing (43%)

Child would not like to be separated from parents (36%)

Prefer to look after child myself (61%)

Not good for child's wellbeing (38%)

Not good for relationship with child (35%)

Not good for child's development (31%)

Child would not like to be separated from parents (22%)

Note: Parents could select multiple options.

Views and experiences across parent groups

The research identified some significant variation across parent groups in whether parents would use the 1140 hours expanded entitlement.

This variation primarily related to income, deprivation and whether parents pay for ELC. For example single earners were less likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours, and those who pay for ELC were more likely to expect to use the full expanded entitlement.

Below we summarise the main variations across parent groups, highlighting where parents were significantly more or less likely than those in other parent groups to give a specific response.

Low incomes/Most deprived areas

No significant variation

Rural areas

Less likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours.

Single earner households

Less likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours.

Parents of children with ASN

No significant variation

Currently pay for ELC

More likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours.

Do not currently use funded ELC

More likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours.

Other significant differences

Parent age: Under 25s are less likely to expect to use the full 1140 expanded hours.

Parent gender: No significant variation.

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