Press release

Parents overwhelmingly satisfied with free early education

Statistics published by the Department for Education show that parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with free early education.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Almost 90% of parents are satisfied with free early education, according to reports published today. The statistics also show that 96% of 3- and 4-year-olds across England are benefiting from free early education.

The government has today published ‘Provision for children under five years of age in England: January 2012’ and ‘Childcare and early years survey of parents 2010’. They give a comprehensive view of early education among young children across England, showing the number of funded places for children aged 5 years and under, as well as overall numbers of children who benefit from free early education.

The reports show:

  • More than 1,264,000 children benefited from their free entitlement to early education in 2012;
  • Around 40,000 more three- and four-year-olds are benefiting from free early education in 2012, compared with the previous year;
  • Those children who are taking up free entitlement are taking more hours;
  • There are 462 more private and voluntary free early education providers in 2012 compared with the previous year.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

The right start in life leads to brighter futures. Parents have been crying out for more childcare, and now more than a million 3- and 4-year-olds are benefiting. Today’s figures show that free places are being snapped up - which means huge benefits for families.

We’re picking up the pace, rolling out free early education to disadvantaged 2-year-olds in 10 areas from this September, before we do so across the whole country next year. We are revolutionising the early years for the good of future generations.

Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, said:

Parents value free early education. By the academic year 2014 to 2015 this government will be investing £760 million in free early education for 2-year-olds.

Parents know that it gives their child the best possible start in life, and allows them to learn through play and stories. It provides the perfect preparation for school life, and I am delighted that even more young children are gaining through early education.

The findings come as the government prepares to roll out free early education to hundreds of 2-year-olds on a trial basis in 10 areas in September. At present all 3- and 4-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education each week. This will develop further so that 40% of 2-year-olds - more than a quarter-of-a-million - will receive free early education from September 2014.

The government is currently undertaking a review of childcare costs. This is looking at the effectiveness of current support, wraparound care, best practice from home and abroad, and the impact of bureaucracy. It is also considering the findings of Professor Cathy Nutbrown’s report, ‘Foundations for quality - the independent review of early education and childcare qualifications’, which looks to enhance quality in the sector. The government will report back on both issues later this year.

Note to editors

  1. The two statistical publications - ‘Provision for children under five years of age in England: January 2012’ and ‘Childcare and early years survey of parents 2010’ - are available in the research and statistics section.

DfE enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300

General enquiries - for members of the public 0370 000 2288

Published 28 June 2012