Press release

Consultation launched on free early education

Free early education will be extended to 140,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds, and parents will be able to access the free entitlement more flexibly, under plans published by the Government today.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Children’s Minister Sarah Teather set out the plans in a consultation on changes to free early education.

The consultation includes proposals to:

  • Make the free entitlement to 15 hours per week of early education more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm, and spread across two days instead of the current three days.
  • Use the criteria which is used for free school meals to decide which disadvantaged two-year-olds should qualify for free early education,
  • Include two-year-olds who are looked after by the state in the eligibility criteria for free early education.
  • Slim down statutory guidance for local authorities from 100 pages to fewer than 20 pages.

Under the plans, up to 140,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours a week of free early education. The announcement follows the Government’s commitment, made by the Deputy Prime Minister in October 2010, to extend 15 hours of free early education - currently available to all three- and four-year-olds - to disadvantaged two-year-olds from September 2013.

Nick Clegg said:

I want us to give every child the best possible start - so free education for toddlers from the most disadvantaged homes will now be a right and not a privilege. Crucially the extra care will be flexible and easy to access. Parents across the country are bending over backwards to balance work and home. The Coalition wants to help in whatever way we can.

Sarah Teather, Children’s Minister, said:

Our priority is to increase social mobility by helping children from the poorest backgrounds in their earliest years. High quality early education is the key to making a difference early on in a child’s life. It’s crucial for their healthy development and means they’re not falling behind before they have even started primary school.

We want more children to be able to access their full early education entitlement. Too often, the most disadvantaged children don’t get what they are entitled to. It’s important we target early education at those who stand to benefit the most.

We also want to make the entitlement more flexible, so that children don’t miss out on early education and parents can help balance their work and family life more easily.

All 152 local authorities in England have been delivering a targeted offer of between 10 and 15 hours of free early education to some of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds since September 2009. The extension of 15 hours to all disadvantaged two-year-olds will mean an increase in the number of places across the country, from 20,000 per year to around 140,000 per year.

The Department is funding 15 trials in 18 local authorities to test approaches to expand free early education for disadvantaged two-year-olds. The trials are looking at the challenges that local areas face to deliver the expansion as well as helping them to share learning and best practice across the country. The trials will run until 31 March 2012.

The Department is also consulting on how to improve the way in which local authorities tell parents how they are ensuring sufficient childcare places in the local area. An annual report to parents would replace the overly bureaucratic childcare sufficiency assessment that local authorities must currently do every three years.

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation is published on our consultations web page. It will run until 31 January 2012.

  2. Subject to passage of the current Education Bill and regulations, local authorities will have a statutory duty to provide 15 hours of free early education and childcare to disadvantaged two-year-olds from September 2013.

  3. Funding is being given to all local authorities from this financial year in order to build up to the new entitlement. £64 million in 2011-12, £223 million in 2012-13, £331 million in 2013-14 and £380 million in 2014-15. This is part of the Early Intervention Grant for the first two years. The consultation asks for views on the best funding route from 2013-14 onwards.

  4. The number of disadvantaged two-year-olds who stand to benefit are listed below, by local authority:

Number of families with a child aged two, with an income of £16,190 or less and receiving Child Tax Credit, April 2011.

These indicative figures are derived from a sample. Numbers at local authority level are relatively small, so are subject to statistical error. In forecasting eligibility for the two year old offer, local authorities may also want to draw on other available information, such as numbers and proportions of school age children known to be eligible for free school meals, and demographic projections.

 

Number (to the nearest hundred)

 

 

ENGLAND

136,400

 

 

NORTH EAST

7,900

Darlington

200

Durham

1,700

Gateshead

600

Hartlepool

400

Middlesbrough

600

Newcastle upon Tyne

900

North Tyneside

500

Northumberland

600

Redcar and Cleveland

400

South Tyneside

500

Stockton-on-Tees

700

Sunderland

1,000

 

 

NORTH WEST

20,100

Blackburn with Darwen

600

Blackpool

500

Bolton

1,000

Bury

500

Cheshire East

600

Cheshire West and Chester

700

Cumbria

900

Halton

500

Knowsley

600

Lancashire

2,700

Liverpool

1,800

Manchester

2,300

Oldham

800

Rochdale

900

Salford

900

Sefton

500

St. Helens

600

Stockport

600

Tameside

700

Trafford

300

Warrington

400

Wigan

800

Wirral

1,000

 

 

YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER

14,700

Barnsley

800

Bradford

1,900

Calderdale

600

Doncaster

1,000

East Riding of Yorkshire

400

Kingston Upon Hull, City of

1,100

Kirklees

1,000

Leeds

2,300

North East Lincolnshire

600

North Lincolnshire

400

North Yorkshire

700

Rotherham

800

Sheffield

1,600

Wakefield

1,000

York

300

 

 

EAST MIDLANDS

10,800

Derby

700

Derbyshire

1,600

Leicester

1,400

Leicestershire

900

Lincolnshire

1,800

Northamptonshire

1,700

Nottingham

1,200

Nottinghamshire

1,500

Rutland

-

 

 

WEST MIDLANDS

16,800

Birmingham

4,700

Coventry

900

Dudley

900

Herefordshire

300

Sandwell

1,400

Shropshire

400

Solihull

400

Staffordshire

1,600

Stoke-on-Trent

1,100

Telford and Wrekin

600

Walsall

1,200

Warwickshire

1,000

Wolverhampton

1,100

Worcestershire

1,100

 

 

EAST OF ENGLAND

13,100

Bedford Borough

500

Cambridgeshire

1,100

Central Bedfordshire

500

Essex

2,700

Hertfordshire

2,200

Luton

700

Norfolk

2,000

Peterborough

700

Southend-on-Sea

600

Suffolk

1,600

Thurrock

600

 

 

LONDON

26,300

Barking and Dagenham

1,200

Barnet

800

Bexley

700

Brent

1,000

Bromley

700

Camden

600

City of London

-

Croydon

1,400

Ealing

1,100

Enfield

1,400

Greenwich

1,100

Hackney

1,000

Hammersmith and Fulham

500

Haringey

1,000

Harrow

400

Havering

500

Hillingdon

900

Hounslow

900

Islington

800

Kensington and Chelsea

300

Kingston upon Thames

300

Lambeth

1,300

Lewisham

1,100

Merton

500

Newham

1,100

Redbridge

600

Richmond upon Thames

200

Southwark

900

Sutton

500

Tower Hamlets

1,200

Waltham Forest

1,000

Wandsworth

700

Westminster

600

 

 

SOUTH EAST

16,800

Bracknell Forest

300

Brighton and Hove

600

Buckinghamshire

700

East Sussex

1,100

Hampshire

2,100

Isle of Wight

300

Kent

3,300

Medway

700

Milton Keynes

800

Oxfordshire

1,000

Portsmouth

600

Reading

400

Slough

500

Southampton

900

Surrey

1,600

West Berkshire

300

West Sussex

1,300

Windsor and Maidenhead

-

Wokingham

200

 

 

SOUTH WEST

10,000

Bath and North East Somerset

200

Bournemouth

400

Bristol, City of

1,200

Cornwall

900

Devon

1,200

Dorset

700

Gloucestershire

800

Isles of Scilly

-

North Somerset

400

Plymouth

700

Poole

300

Somerset

900

South Gloucestershire

500

Swindon

600

Torbay

400

Wiltshire

700

Source: HMRC www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/personal-tax-credits/cwtc-geog-stats.htm

Figures are estimates, subject to statistical error. 95% confidence intervals for an estimate of 500 children are plus or minus 88 children; for an estimate of 1,000 are plus or minus 124; and for an estimate of 2,000 are plus or minus 175 (for couples with children, lone parents imply a larger confidence interval)

No adjustment is made to reflect that some families will have more than one child aged two.

Individual LA totals may not sum to regional or England’s total due to rounding.

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