Government praise for two-year-old funding success
Date Added: 07/10/2015
Central Bedfordshire Council has been praised by the government for the success of its two-year-old funding programme.
The council’s Early Years team has been working hard to encourage the parents and carers of the 900 two year olds from across Central Bedfordshire who qualify for free childcare and early education to take advantage of the 15 hours each week which are available to their children.
Their efforts have seen take-up rocket, and latest figures show that 76 per cent (around 690) of eligible two year olds are now benefiting from the scheme in Central Bedfordshire.
That is well above the national average of 63 per cent and places the council first out of 11 councils in the east of England and second out of 11 against its statistical neighbours – trumped only by Warwickshire on 77 per cent.
In a letter praising the council, Sam Gyimah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, wrote: “Your ongoing dedication continues to raise the standards for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and gives them the crucial support they need in order to do well at school and beyond.
“Thank you for your hard work and dedication. Your sustained efforts are helping to ensure that children from lower income backgrounds have the very best start in life.”
Councillor Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “It is fantastic to receive government recognition for the team’s hard work. Rather than just contacting parents and carers and hoping that they will take up the offer of funded childcare, they go the extra mile to ensure that as many eligible two year olds as possible benefit from their entitlement.
“Children really benefit from nurseries and pre-school settings as they allow them to mix with other children of their age, play, explore and take part in a host of different activities.”
Among the measures which the Early Years team has employed to get more funded two year olds to take up places include creating an extra classroom at Westfield Nursery School, in Dunstable, a new pre-school for 48 children on the site of Greenleas School, in Kestrel Way, Leighton Buzzard, increased places at Watling Forest Club, in Dunstable, and supported a number of schools to take two year olds in their nursery classes.
The council is also working hard to recruit and register childminders across Central Bedfordshire – especially in areas where there is currently little or no childcare and early years provision.
The 15 hours of free weekly childcare and early education is available to the parents of two year olds if they receive certain benefits or have an annual household income of not more than £16,190. It is an extension of the government scheme which offers 15 hours a week of free childcare to all three and four year olds.
For more information about childcare and early education in Central Bedfordshire visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/childcare