ICMEC Launch of London Development Agency report on the London Childcare Market

Thursday 3 March 2011 am at UEL's Docklands Campus

The LDA commissioned this report, number 5 in their Labour Market Research Series, to provide a more comprehensive understanding of London’s childcare market including the extent, if any, of market failures in London. It was written for LDA by a team comprising of two economic and social research agencies, Roger Tym & Partners and Laing & Buisson, together with ICMEC's Co-directors at UEL. Download report.

The London childcare market is worth an estimated £1 billion. This represents 18 per cent of total childcare spending in England. The supply of childcare places in London grew more than in any other region between 2003 and 2008. Yet it remains below the national average, harder to find and more costly, particularly for the 60% of London mothers working atypical hours.  Such problems tend to be seen as market failures. The report challenges this perception and identifies these problems as resulting from market outcomes rather than market failures. As such market outcomes may conflict with public policy intentions, remedies may be better aimed at tackling equity failures rather than market failures.

Biographies of the speakers at the report's launch can be found here: Biographical details speakers LDA childcare market report ICMEC launch 3 March 2011.

Dave Lawrence and Andrew Clarke, from Roger Tym & Partners, discussed the overall approach taken and key findings. Unfortunately, Philip Blackburn from Laing & Buisson was unable to be present, but he had been involved in putting together the main presentation. Their presentation can be found here: Clarke and Lawrence and Blackburn presentation LDA childcare market report ICMEC launch 3 March 2011.

The launch was chaired by Andre Mostert, development manager of the Petchey Centre for Entrepreneurship at UEL's Royal Docks Business School (Petchey Centre).

Kris Krasnowski,  Senior Policy Manager, LDA Labour Market Strategy  and report sponsor, discussed the LDA commissioning rationale and the report's potential policy impact. He was keen to stress that it was at the ballot box that people had a key opportunity to influence the future direction in the area of childcare policy of local or central government.

Report author Eva Lloyd, Co-director ICMEC, drew attention to key characteristics of London and of the London childcare market. Not only were there huge differences between the markets in Inner as compared to Outer London boroughs, but within local authorities, great inequalities could be found as well. Her presentation can be found here: THE LONDON CHILDCARE MARKET Eva Lloyd Presentation ICMEC seminar 3 March 2011.

Helen Penn, professor of Early Childhood at UEL introduced the lively discussion that followed the three presentations. Several members of the audience drew attention to the possibility that the report's rejection of market failure in favour of equity failure might send the wrong message to government about the struggles of London parents to find affordable childcare. The report's authors and the LDA commissioner argued that it would be hard for officials to interpret the report's contents in this way, where so much emphasis was placed on the widespread poverty and inequality that characterised London. An interesting debate concerned the identification of levels of demand, as uptake statistics do not reveal the underlying picture about parental preferences. The report's authors agreed that qualitative research is needed to complement the statistical data. In the report they had cited sources such as the timeseries of biennial surveys of parents views and experiences until recently undertaken by teams from the National Centre for Social Research. It was agreed that the equity issues presented within the London childcare market raised profound questions about the suitability of the market approach to childcare as one of a range of human service sectors.

Posted 9 March 2011.

The Second 2010/2011 ICMEC Seminar - Vouchers again? Recent experience with early education vouchers in Hong Kong

Tuesday 9 November 2010 at Stratford Campus.

Early childhood education in Hong Kong is unique in being solely operated by the private sector. Recent education policy initiatives have all taken place within a market context. The early education voucher scheme was implemented three years ago, with the aim of offering affordable and quality early childhood education to all 3 and 4 year old children. Its roll-out has had intended as well as unintended consequences, generating controversy and criticism. Anyone interested in the future of British as well as global early years policy might find taking account of these developments useful.

Dr Gail Yuen, Assistant Professor, Department of Education Policy and Leadership at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, reported on three studies she has undertaken of the Hong Kong early education voucher scheme since its introduction.

Dr Lynn Ang, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood, School of Education and Communities at the University of East London, provided a commentary on these developments informed by her studies of early education systems in the Asia Pacific region. She contributed to the interpretation of the findings of Dr Yuen's studies by setting these within the wider Asia Pacific early childhood policy context.

As well as a PowerPoint presentation that can be found by following this link: presentation Dr Lynn Ang ECEC in Asia and the Pacific ICMEC seminar Tuesday 9 Nov 2010, Dr Ang also provided a background paper on these contextual matters: Discussant Paper Dr Lynn Ang ICMEC seminar 9 November 2010.

A lively discussion followed the two presentations, as the audience of academics, postgraduate students, think tank researchers and childcare business professionals explored the issues raised and their relevance for ECEC policy and practice in the UK today, taking account of the rapidly changing policy environment. You can find some biographical information on the two speakers by following this link: ICMEC Seminar Biog handout Gail Yuen and Lynn Ang.

Posted 27 November 2010.

Early childhood policy developments in New Zealand

On Tuesday 14 September 2010 ICMEC hosted a seminar with Professor Helen May on the topic of recent policy shifts in early childhood policy in New Zealand. Professor May is Professor of Education and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Otago. During the early 1990s Helen worked with Margaret Carr on the development of Te Whaariki, the first national curriculum guidelines for New Zealand. For further information on Professor May's work follow this link

The discussant at this seminar was Professor Jennifer Sumsion, Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Studies at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW, Australia. She will consider policy developments in New Zealand as seen through an Australian lens. Further information on Professor Sumsion's work is available here.

A copy of Professor May's presentation can be accessed by following this link: Helen May presentation ICMEC Seminar 14 September 2010.

You can also access a couple of other pertinent publications by Professor May dealing with New Zealand's early childhood policy by following these links: Helen May CIEC journal 2007 and Helen May ICEP 2008 article.

Posted 15 September 2010; amended 23 and 28 September 2010.