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Early years education to target most disadvantaged children
Release date: Mon, 28/05/2012
*** Early years education to target Bristol’s most disadvantaged children ***
New arrangements for supporting Bristol’s most disadvantaged children through early years education are outlined in a report to the council’s cabinet published today.
Currently, all three and four year old children are entitled to 15 hours free early years education each week and this will remain in place.
In line with national government policy, Bristol also offers 15 hours free early years places to the 20 per cent of two year-olds in the city who are most disadvantaged. Bristol has made it a priority to expand this support for children from the poorest backgrounds, identifying an extra 500 places to be funded from September, with more new places planned in the future.
In addition, some of Bristol’s 31 maintained children’s centres offer fee paying childcare provision, which is subsidised for all families, regardless of their income or need. At a time of reduced budgets, this subsidy is no longer sustainable, and the council’s cabinet is considering phasing it out. In practice, this means families who choose to pay for childcare in addition to their free entitlement will see an increase in fees of between 20p and 25p per hour.
Families on low incomes, or experiencing disadvantage, will not be affected by this proposal and will benefit from the continued expansion of free early education for disadvantaged two year olds.
Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Clare Campion-Smith, said: “Good early years education has a significant benefit for children. It supports speech and language development, benefits socialisation, encourages them to enjoy learning and has been shown to narrow the gap in development for the most disadvantaged children when they start school.
“In the current economic climate, we need to use resources wisely, directing them to where they are most needed. Boosting the early development of our most disadvantaged two year olds is a priority, ensuring they are on an even footing with their peers when they start at school.
“Phasing out subsidy for childcare at maintained children’s centres will mean fees are in line with those charged in the private, voluntary and independent sector. The subsidy helped children’s centres get established in the city, but we now feel they are in a position to continue to thrive without this extra support.
“I expect our children’s centres to remain a popular choice - 80 per cent are judged to be either good or outstanding by Ofsted for overall standards. We are also working to create additional childcare places across the city with 91 new childminders starting work last year.”
Notes for Editors:
1. 17 out of Bristol’s 31 children’s centres currently offer extra childcare that families can pay for.