Free nursery education on way for 1,570 children from low income families in Northamptonshire

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Almost 1,600 children from low income households in Northamptonshire will receive “use it or lose it” free nursery education, the Government announced today.

It will mean children aged two will receive up to 15 hours a week early education from September 2013, ensuring too that more nurseries keep the best staff and give more children access to high-quality early education.

In Northamptonshire, 1,576 children will be eligible at a cost to the Government of about £4.4m in the first year.

The funding is being provided at a flat rate per child per hour and childcare Minister, Elizabeth Truss, has called for funding to be passed on in full to providers to ensure high-quality staff are recruited and retained.

According to Government research, two-year-olds in good and outstanding settings see real developmental benefits whereas two-year-olds in poorer quality settings are no better off than those who stay at home.

Northamptonshire County Council will receive an average of £5.09 per child per hour for statutory places, which they are expected to pass on in full to schools, nurseries and childminders.

The Government says this is significantly above the market rate of £4.13 which providers charge and will enable high quality staff to be retained, recruited and trained.

It is also calling on local authorities to raise awareness so that as many families as possible take up the offer so less money will go to councils that have not ensured parents are taking up these places, what it calls a “use it or lose it” basis.

Making the announcement today, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “From 2013, nearly 10,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds in the East Midlands will be eligible for 15-hours of free childcare a week, with numbers eligible set to double the year after. Today we’re letting local authorities in the East Midlands know the money they will receive to offer these free places and make a huge difference to hard-pressed families.

“Good quality childcare gives children a headstart even before they walk through the school gates for the first time. No child in the East Midlands should miss out on this just because of the circumstances of their birth.”