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More Free Childcare for Cornwall
6:06am 30th May 2012
Hundreds of two-year-olds in Cornwall are to benefit from free childcare a year early, Nick Clegg has announced.
The Deputy Prime Minister also revealed changes that will allow more parents to take advantage of the scheme - already used by more than 800,000 three and four-year-olds.
It is intended that 150,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds across ten pilot areas will receive up to 15 hours a week of free pre-school education from September 2013, rising to 260,000 in 2014.
Following a consultation, the first areas to benefit apart from Cornwall will be Blackpool, Greenwich, Kent, Lambeth, Lancashire, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rotherham.
Mr Clegg said parents will be given the option to spread their free nursery place over two days, rather than three, and to use the free hours between 7am and 7pm, rather than 8am and 6pm
The changes are intended to make it easier to fit the childcare around working lives.
"We're revolutionising the early start our children get in life," said Mr Clegg. "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."
Mr Clegg said the money to fund free early education will be ring-fenced within the Dedicated Schools Grant from April 2013.
Sarah Teather, Children's Minister, said: "High quality early education is the key to making a difference early on in a child's life. All the evidence shows how important it is for their development.
"The challenge now is to make sure the least advantaged two-year-olds are able to access their early education entitlement.
"Too often, the most disadvantaged children don't get what they are entitled to. It's important we now work with councils, nurseries and childminders to target free early education at those who stand to benefit the most.
"I am determined that the Coalition Government will do all it can to make sure the poorest two-year-olds and their families can reap the benefits from our investment around the country."
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