Free education extension plans

Norman Baker
Norman Baker

POLEGATE and Seaford MP has welcomed the news that more than a thousand two-year-olds in East Sussex will receive 15 hours of free education.

Currently, 95 per cent of three and four-year-olds access the same amount of free early years education per week, but the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced this will now be extended to include two year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds, using the same criteria that is applied for free school meals.

This change will mean that, nationally, 150,000 children will benefit from phase one of the roll-out in September 2013, and a further 110,000 will benefit in the second phase in September 2014.

Other changes to early years education include greater flexibility for parents by extending the time of the day when parents can drop off their children at nursery.

Currently, parents have to drop off their children no earlier than 8am and pick them up no later than 6pm. This will now be extended to 7am and 7pm.

Parents will also be given the option to spread out their child’s free 15 hours of early education over three days, rather than the current two.

This announcement follows on from the implementation of the Lib Dem manifesto’s £2.5billion Pupil Premium that is designed to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing dedicated money that follows them throughout their education.

Mr Baker said, “The country’s finances are tight, but it is absolutely right that resources are dedicated to providing early support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, as this is crucial to ensuring that they are given a fair crack at life.

“Extending early years education to two years olds will ensure that youngster hit the ground running when they reach school age and also give much needed help to parents who are struggling to juggle work commitments and the demands of being a parent.

“It is excellent news that over a thousand local youngsters will benefit from this Lib Dem policy.”