olds, benefiting from some level of free early years education,
according to new statistics published today.
'Good quality nursery education can improve children's social,
educational and emotional development and ensure they each get a sure
start in life. There is already a free part-time early education
place, which consists of five two and a half hour sessions per week
for thirty-three weeks of the year, for every four year old whose
parents want one. We are on course to ensure that every three year
old has access to the same entitlement by April 2004.
'We want to ensure that all parents know about the childcare, early
education and family support services available to give them more
choice over whether they return to work or enter into further
education or training. June sees the launch of National Sure Start
Month with families across the country taking part in local
activities which celebrate and promote childcare, early education and
family support services and the key role played by people working
within the sector.
'Funded early education is provided within a variety of settings in
the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors from
maintained nursery schools and classes to playgroups and childminder
networks, giving parents greater choice. Alongside this, we are
creating more childcare places increasingly delivered alongside early
education and family support services.
'Every child deserves the best start in life and we are committed to
delivering a sure start for every child, with help focused where it
is needed most. We are determined to grasp this opportunity to make a
difference for this generation of children and future generations.'
The National Sure Start Month in June 2003 is organised by, Kids'
Clubs Network, in association with The Daycare Trust, Nationa l
Childminding Association, National Day Nurseries Association, and
Pre-school Learning Alliance and is sponsored by the Sure Start Unit
in the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Work
This Press Notice applies to England.
1. Today's statistics were published in Statistical First Release
15/2003 'Provision for Children Under Five Years of Age in England -
January 2003 (Provisional)', which is available on the department's
2. The number of three year olds benefiting from funded early
education in January 2003 was 510,400 or 88% of the three year old
population, either at private and voluntary providers (271,500) or
maintained nursery and primary schools (218,500).
3. The figures for numbers of three year olds benefiting from funded
early education in previous years were: 271,700 (44%) in 2000,
352,100 (59%) in 2001, and 421,000 (71%) in 2002. The figures for
private and voluntary providers and independent schools cannot be
compared with previous years. They are derived from data returned by
the providers themselves together with data on numbers of providers
returned by local education authorities; the figures for previous
years were derived from data returned by the providers themselves.
4. The figures published today are headcounts of children benefiting
from funded early education. More than one child may benefit from a
free early years place consisting of five two and a half hour
sessions per week, for thirty-three weeks of the year. Figures on the
number of free early education places taken up by three and four year
olds will be published later this year.
5. Funded early education is provided in a variety of settings in the
maintained, private and voluntary sectors. This includes maintained
nursery schools and classes, independent schools, day care nurseries,
playgroups, pre schools and childminder networks. Providers must
offer a programme of activities which enable children to work towards
the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum in order to qualify
6. Sure Start brings together childcare, early years and family
support. The Sure Start unit works with local authorities, local
communities, and voluntary and private sector organisations to ensure
delivery of free part-time early education for all three and four
year olds along with childcare and after school activities in every
area. Sure Start support families from pregnancy until children are
14 years old or 16, including those with SEN and for those with
disabilities up to 16 when they have special educational needs.
Guiding principles for all Sure Start provision are available at