Free nursery places for two-year-olds have been promised to mothers as a part of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement announced this afternoon.
‘Early education’ places are expected to be given to 40% of toddlers by 2014-15 in a bid to help mums get back to work post-pregnancy. At the moment, all three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education a week, but preliminary trials start in 2013 to help disadvantaged families give their toddlers the best start possible.
The scheme will give parents any time from 7am and 7pm to drop off and pick up their toddlers, which should be flexible enough to fit in with many work schedules.
George Osbourne believes the number of two year-olds helped by the scheme will double as it gains momentum and the government is already planning to increase the funding for early childcare to £380m.
“Around 260,000 children from the most disadvantaged families will get this support in early years,” Osbourne said today. “This is how you genuinely lift children out of poverty.”
This stems from a wider “early intervention” government strategy, as research shows children with access to pre-school learning tend to start their education more motivated and ready to learn.