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There are now 510,400 three year olds, or 88% of all three years ...
There are now 510,400 three year olds, or 88% of all three years

olds, benefiting from some level of free early years education,

according to new statistics published today.

Sure Start minister Catherine Ashton said:

'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

and Pensions.


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

for funding.

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

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