Childcare Expansion

Hundreds of two year olds - including many in Northamptonshire - are going to benefit from free pre-school education, under a shake-up.

At the moment, the nursery care's available for three and four year olds, but it's been decided a trial to expand this will start in September 2012 in ten areas.

These areas are Blackpool, Cornwall, Greenwich, Kent, Lambeth, Lancashire, Newcastle, Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rotherham.

The rules are also going to be changed so that parents who work can drop off their children earlier and pick them up later.

New guidance will also make clear that nurseries cannot make the free childcare conditional on parents also taking up additional paid-for hours.

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told BBC Breakfast that he hoped the initiative would make a "dramatic difference.''

"The basic challenge, of course, if you are going to expand the amount of child care provision to two-year-olds, you need more people properly qualified to do that and we need more places,'' he said.

"That is why we are carefully piloting this new initiative. It is a revolution in childcare to extend this to two year olds as of this September and then going up in very steady steps.''


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