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500,000 PARENTS APPLY FOR NURSERY VOUCHERS

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Education secretary Gillian Shephard has announced that half a million parents have already applied for nursery edu...
Education secretary Gillian Shephard has announced that half a million parents have already applied for nursery education vouchers each worth£1,100.

The remaining 150,000 eligible parents still have time to sign up before the scheme starts on 1 April.

She said:

'I am delighted that so many parents have already applied for their vouchers. This confounds those critics and cynics who said that the scheme was unpopular with parents and would never work. There were those who said that the scheme was 'a bureaucratic nightmare' - but, 500,000 parents did not seem to find it so.

Let there be no doubt in anyone's mind - nursery vouchers are on their way and will be accepted in over 31,000 schools and playgroups throughout the country from April 1997.

'Nursery vouchers give parents a real choice. They place purchasing power squarely in the hands of parents - the people who are best placed to make important decisions for their children.

'The Nursery Voucher Scheme aims to increase the number of nursery places so that - over time - all parents who wish can exchange their vouchers for three terms of high quality pre-school education for their children. The vouchers will issue at the end of this month.

'The information campaign for nursery vouchers is a real success: the nursery voucher hotline has received over 200,000 calls; the nursery voucher roadshow has visited 19 shopping centres; and over 3,000,000 leaflets have been issued.

'I am delighted to see that so many retailers and commercial companies are involved in the campaign. Tesco, J Sainsbury, Safeway, Kwik Save, BhS and South West Electricity Board are distributing almost a million information leaflets through 4,000 outlets. Ladybird, Geometrix, Play Doh and Staedtler have provided prizes for the roadshows. I greatly value their support for improved choice and quality in early years education.'

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