UK & World News
Plans To Extend Free Childcare Brought Forward
Almost 1,000 two-year-olds are to benefit from free childcare a year early following a decision to bring forward trials in 10 areas of England to September, Nick Clegg has announced.
The Deputy Prime Minister also revealed changes that will allow more parents to take advantage of the scheme - already used by more than 800,000 three and four-year-olds.
It is intended that 150,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds will receive up to 15 hours a week of free pre-school education from September 2013, rising to 260,000 in 2014.
Following a consultation, the first areas to benefit will be Blackpool, Cornwall, Greenwich, Kent, Lambeth, Lancashire, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rotherham.
Mr Clegg said parents will be given the option to spread their free nursery place over two days, rather than three, and to use the free hours between 7am and 7pm, rather than 8am and 6pm.
The changes are intended to make it easier to fit the childcare around working lives.
"We're revolutionising the early start our children get in life," said Mr Clegg. "There will be more free childcare, it will be higher quality, and it will be more flexible for parents."By getting things right from the off we're making sure our youngsters are ready to learn when they start school so that they get the most out of their education.
"Every child should have a fair crack at the whip from the start and be able to go on to fulfil their potential."
Mr Clegg said the money to fund free early education will be ring-fenced within the Dedicated Schools Grant from April 2013.
Sarah Teather, Children's Minister, said: "High quality early education is the key to making a difference early on in a child's life. All the evidence shows how important it is for their development.
"The challenge now is to make sure the least advantaged two-year-olds are able to access their early education entitlement.
"Too often, the most disadvantaged children don't get what they are entitled to. It's important we now work with councils, nurseries and childminders to target free early education at those who stand to benefit the most.
"I am determined that the Coalition Government will do all it can to make sure the poorest two-year-olds and their families can reap the benefits from our investment around the country."
what do you think?
What do they class as disadvantaged? In the town I live in we were classed as disadvantaged. So they built a children's centre. After a few years the government stopped a lot of the help with money so we're back to square one.
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The comment that isn't allowed on here included the word fund with the letters ing at the end how is this offensive?
This should be available for all children. My daughter is a lone parent now and works full time in a low paid job. Her nursery fees are £150 per week! She only brings home £1200 per month and has to pay her exorbitant rent too - £400. She doesn't want to finish work but as the 'care' home where she works is getting sold on to another company, her job is already at risk. Isn't capitalism just great?