Life, the Universe and 15 hours of free education and care for two-year-olds: what do parents think?

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


This paper provides interim data from a study which captures the views of a group of parents who take up 15 hours of funded 2YO childcare. It aimed to investigate the perspectives of parents of 2YOs in an inner city school regarding effects on their family lives of 15 weekly hours of free ECEC for their 2YOs. A subtle realist stance was taken to question the rationale for this policy and an instrumental case study approach adopted to understand, explore and exemplify the issue. ‘Astra Setting’ is 2YO provision in a primary school serving an urban area of ethnic super-diversity with a high percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged children. During school term-time, it has capacity for 12 morning children and 12 different afternoon children but currently takes 10 morning and 5 afternoon children of at least seven different nationalities. All Astra Setting parents (n=30) were invited to participate in a structured questionnaire and 27% (n=8) of those parents were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews. The study ethics were guided by BERA (2011). 12 parents (40%) responded to the questionnaire and 6 parents (20%) agreed to participate in interviews. Analysis is in process but early findings indicate that while parents are positive about the 2YO provision it has not made a difference to their work or study patterns. Implications are that a universal offer may encourage more parents to take up 2YO provision in England, while greater flexibility in allocating hours and stronger signposting may help parents to work and study. Findings therefore raise questions about the role of 2YO practitioners in England: are they providers of good quality childcare to improve children’s lifetime outcomes or recruitment agents for parental employment?
Period6 May 2016
Event titleWorld Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP) European Conference 2016: The Place of the Child in the 21st Century
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionRegional