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Free nursery places increased in Autumn Statement

30/11/2011 Joanna
The Chancellor George Osborne announced more free nursery or childcare places for two-year-olds as part of the Autumn Statement yesterday (November 29th).

Some 260,000 places for young children from the most deprived families will be made available under the provisions, almost double the 140,000 places which the Department for Education (DfE) proposed earlier in November.

Presently, three and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free "early education" each week, but under the new plans this will be expanded to include around 40 per cent of all two-year-olds in England, the BBC reported.

It is hoped that the scheme will make going back to work easier for parents.

The childcare proposals are set to cost £380 million per year when they are rolled-out in 2014-15 following a pilot scheme in 2013, the news provider said.

Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Osborne said: "Education. Early years learning. That is how you change the life chances of our least well off – and genuinely lift children out of poverty."

Announcing the plans earlier in the month, children's minister Sarah Teather said that the government's priority was 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," she said.

Mr Osborne also unveiled plans to create an additional £600 million in funding for a further 100 Free Schools, with proposals to create specialist maths schools with the backing of businesses.

The 12 specialist maths schools for 16 to 18-year-olds are designed to help train young people to compete on the global stage, but not everyone welcomed the move.

The Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Brian Lightman questioned the need of creating the new Free Schools.

"It is incomprehensible that the government is committing that sum of funding to creating 100 new Free Schools when so many existing schools are in desperate need of investment," he said.

Posted by Charlotte MichaelsADNFCR-2164-ID-801225902-ADNFCR
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