Free pre-school places for two-year-olds

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Free pre-school places will be available from September for two-year-olds from disadvantaged homes in Wellingborough.

The town is one of 10 areas selected to trial a new Government scheme being billed as one which will transform free early education.

Currently all three and four-year-olds are eligible for 15-hours of free early education per week.

Two-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were due to start receiving free pre-school education from 2013, but the programme will now be rolled out early in Wellingborough.

The scheme will also allow parents greater flexibility as the hours in which they will be able to take their children for their free place will be extended by two hours, from 7am to 7pm. Currently, parents have to drop their children off no earlier than 8am and pick them up no later than 6pm.

Parents will also be able to spread their free nursery place over two days rather than the current three.

Revised statutory guidance also makes it clear parents do not have to pay to access their child’s free early education place – it follows concerns that some free nursery places are being made conditional on parents being able to make additional payments.

The scheme has been spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He said: “We’re revolutionising the early start our children get in life – 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.”

Funding for the free early education places will be ring-fenced within the Dedicated Schools Grant from April 2013.