Thousands of two-years-olds to benefit from early education expansion

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Health & Education Editor

MORE than 8,000 two year olds from lower income households in the region are to benefit from a Government drive to provide more early education.

Funding given to local councils should allow 7,265 North-Eastern children to start enjoying 15 hours a week early education from September next year.

The allocation will also benefit 1,114 two-year-olds from North Yorkshire and York.

This funding will help ensure more nurseries keep the best staff and give more children access to the high-quality early education they need to help them get on in life.

The funding is being provided at a flat rate per child per hour, adjusted for the area's average costs.

Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss has called for funding to be passed on in full to providers to ensure that high-quality staff are recruited and retained and so that excellent operators are encouraged to open in areas of scarce provision.

Local authorities will receive an average of £5.09 per child per hour, for statutory places, which they are expected to pass on in full to schools, nurseries and childminders.

This is significantly above the market rate of £4.13.

A new online tool from Ofsted will allow parents and providers to compare how many good and outstanding providers there are in each local area.

The Government is also calling on local authorities to raise awareness so that as many families as possible take up the offer.

In total, local authorities will receive more than half a billion pounds to fund two-year-olds places next year. Funding will increase so that from September 2014, 260,000 two-year-olds benefit.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "From 2013, 130,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds will be eligible for 15-hours of free childcare a week with double that number set to benefit the following year.

"Today we're letting local authorities know the money they will receive to offer these free places and make a huge difference to hard-pressed families.

"Good quality childcare gives children a headstart even before they walk through the school gates for the first time. No child should miss out on this just because of the circumstances of their birth."

The Government has also announced capital funding allocations to councils totalling £100 million, to help build, extend or improve nurseries and early education facilities.

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