Preschoolers to accept 2 year olds

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    The Government’s has a very controversial plan for schools to expand their classes to take on two year olds in nurseries. The move has been condemned as nonsensical after official statistics revealed that the vast majority of schools don’t plan to take part.

    Statistics by the Department for Education show that only 6% of nurseries currently offer funded places, and only 12% plan to in the future.

    Ministers have argued that schools are ideally placed to provide extra childcare places for working parents and boost the performance of disadvantaged youngsters.

    But the Pre-school Learning Alliance, an early years charity, highlighted the figures and called on the Government to stop the “disproportionate” focus on school nurseries. They argued that private childcare and day nurseries needed far more support.

    Neil Leitch, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The Government believes that encouraging more primary schools to take two-year-olds will support the expansion of the free entitlement offer, but these statistics clearly show that that is simply not the case. For the Government to continue to focus so heavily on promoting school nurseries as a source of provision for funded two-year-olds, therefore, is completely nonsensical. The Government should recognise the pivotal role of the private, voluntary and independent sector in the delivery of early years care and learning and look to build on this progress, rather than spending a disproportionate amount of time and effort on a school-focused approach that has little chance of succeeding.”

    The Government has already expanded its free childcare scheme. This was done to provide 15 hours of free care a week to 40 per cent of all 2 year olds.

    A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “No child should start school behind their peers. This is why as part of our plan for education we are committed to providing flexible, affordable and good quality childcare, giving parents more choice about where they send their children. Schools are already providing more than 900,000 early years places – and we want more of these to offer funded two-year-old places to local families. We also want to encourage new childcare providers to enter the system, which is why we’re cutting bureaucracy to make it easier for new ones to open and for current ones to expand.

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