Early years and childcare provision

Find out how we are supporting quality early years education and childcare for families.

Early years in London

The first years of our lives are vital. Often, it is the poorest children who miss out. In 2018, only 61 per cent of eligible two-year olds took up a free early education place in London, compared with 72 per cent nationally. By aged five, children entitled to free school meals are almost three months behind their better off peers.


Good quality, affordable childcare benefits society too. It helps parents, especially women to return to work; raising their family income and strengthening the workforce. We want to work with partners across the capital to help:

  • Improve the quality of early years provision for all children, particularly the most disadvantaged.
  • Improve access so all families can find and pay for childcare that meets their needs.

We've published data on whether the quality and accessibility of early years provision is improving in London based on four indicators we proposed. We have consulted with the sector to find out whether we have chosen the right indicators and to find out about the key challenges, examples of what works, and plans for the future. The consultation has now closed and we are using your responses to plan next steps.

Early Years Leaders Programme

The Greater London Authority is inviting proposals from organisations to deliver Early Years Leaders Programme. This 2 year-programme, based on a coaching model, will support early years practitioners to increase their leadership, management and business skills; improve quality of early years provision and outcomes for children.

The Early Years Programme is aimed at existing early years practitioners, including part-time workers, who already possess the legally required qualification to manage a setting, but need further develop their management, leadership and business skills.

The GLA will fund one grant of £250,000. Delivery is expected to take place from January 2019 to December 2020.

The deadline for applications is Friday 9 November.

The latest Early Years Leaders Programme FAQs are below.

Early Years Leader Programme FAQs

We are holding an Information Session for organisations interested in delivering the Early Years Leaders Programme on Friday 5 October at 3pm at City Hall. The session will provide:

  • an overview of the Early Years Leaders Programmes specification and application process,
  • opportunity to ask questions
  • opportunity to network with early years sector organisations

Please email [email protected] if you would like to attend this session.

Early Years Campaign

City Hall will soon be inviting proposals from organisations to apply for small grants as part of our London Early Years Campaign.

The Mayor is offering a total of £150,000 to improve awareness of free early education for 2-year-olds and increase take up of places by eligible families.

City Hall will award a maximum of 30 grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 each to local projects. The proposals must target areas of low take up and evidence how they will effectively engage families and communities who are currently missing out on this vital offer.

Interested bidders should have excellent links with local communities and understanding of barriers to take up of early education specific to those communities. We expect the applicants to have strong partnerships with their respective local authorities in order to understand their local childcare market, and with their local early years providers in order to provide families with access to a childcare place. 

Delivery is expected to take place between January 2019 and September 2019.

The greater London Authority (GLA) will run a pan-London social media campaign to support the local activities and to enhance their impact.

We will be holding an information session for organisations interested in the London Early Years Campaign on Friday 12 October at 10am at City Hall. The session will provide:

  • an overview of the programme specification and application process
  • opportunity to ask questions
  • opportunity to network with early years sector organisations

You can register via our Eventbrite page

Childcare Sufficiency Assessment Template for London boroughs

We have worked closely with London boroughs to produce a common template for their Childcare Sufficiency Assessments. We hope this will enable boroughs to effectively intervene in their local markets, provide a more accurate picture of London's childcare provision and help families find the childcare that's right for them.

The London Early Years Datastore supports completion of Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSA) by providing data at a borough level including early years providers and places, take up of the free early entitlement and providers' OFSTED ratings.

Childcare and early education funding in London

This GLA commissioned report by The Family and Childcare Trust looks at funding of early education in London in autumn 2017. It is based on policy and research analysis, additional analysis of Childcare Survey data, and qualitative interviews with 35 providers. 

Read the report here.

The Family and Childcare Trust also undertook research for the GLA on the experiences of former childminders in London, read more here.

Childcare demand: drivers and projections

This GLA Economics paper identifies the drivers of formal childcare demand and provides London level projections of formal childcare demand. This has provided the evidence base for the first set of London level projections of formal childcare demand. Historic data on formal childcare use and projected future formal childcare demand for London by age group of child, and for 0-14 year olds are available on London Datastore. Click here to read the paper.

The London Family Fund

The London Family Fund is designed to promote social integration among parents and families in London. The Fund will help more Londoners develop meaningful and lasting relationships with each other, no matter their ethnicity, disability, income or social class. 


The London Family Fund will award grants of up to £85,000 to innovative projects that promote social integration in London. The application process for the London Family Fund is now closed. To find out more about the fund: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/communities/london-family-fund


Early Years Hubs

The Mayor has launched three Early Years Hubs, which aim to improve access to high-quality early education for the most disadvantaged families. The Hubs are in:


  • Newham
  • Wandsworth and Merton
  • Barnet

The Early Years Hubs provide the opportunity for schools, childminders, Private Voluntary and Independent (PVI) nurseries, and others, to work together over a three-year period.


Read our press release or contact [email protected] for more information.

Childcare Deposit Loan Scheme

In January 2017, following a proposal from Gingerbread, the Mayor launched an interest-free loan scheme to give all parents in the GLA group the funds they need to cover the up-front costs of childcare provision. We're urging businesses and organisations across London to follow suit and offer the same scheme to their employees to support parents to return to the workforce. Further details can be found here.

Healthy Early Years London (HEYL)

Healthy Early Years London (HEYL) is an awards scheme funded by the Mayor of London which supports and recognises achievements in child health, wellbeing and education in early years settings. HEYL will help to reduce health inequalities by supporting a healthy start to life across themes that include healthy eating, oral and physical health and early cognitive development. From Monday 19 March 2018 settings, childminders and boroughs will be able to engage in HEYL through our beta (test) website www.london.gov.uk/healthy-early-years-london

ESOL Plus - Childcare Programme

The Mayor's ESOL Plus initiative will work with partners to meet gaps in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision for learners.

City Hall will work with ESOL providers to deliver an innovative pilot to meet the needs of learners with childcare responsibilities. The application process for ESOL Plus - Childcare Programme is now closed. You can find out more here.

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