Free nursery places scheme expanded

 

Two fifths of two-year-olds are to get free nursery education under an expansion of the scheme, George Osborne announced today.

Around 260,000 youngsters from the poorest families are to receive the help, the Chancellor said, double the number who are currently entitled to it.

The announcement comes just two weeks after the Department for Education (DfE) published proposals for up to 140,000 two-year-olds from poor homes to benefit from plans to extend free nursery education.

In his Autumn Statement today, Mr Osborne insisted that education is the way to change the life chances of the poorest youngsters, and take them out of poverty.

"To ensure that children born into the poorest families have a real chance to become one of those graduates, we will take further steps to improve early education," he said.

He added: "I can tell the House today that we can double the number of children who will receive this free nursery care.

"Forty per cent of two-year-olds, 260,000 children, from the most disadvantaged families, will get this support in their early years.

"Education. Early years learning. That is how you change the life chances of our least well off - and genuinely lift children out of poverty."

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg first announced plans to give two-year-olds from poor homes 15 hours of free early education in October last year.

All three and four-year-olds in England are currently eligible for this amount.

Mr Osborne's statement also confirmed plans, originally announced at the weekend, to spend £600 million on funding and extra 100 free schools, some of which will focus on maths for 16 to 18-year-olds.

"This will give our most talented young mathematicians the chance to flourish," Mr Osborne said.

Another £600 million will go to local councils to help them create new school places.

PA

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