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Early-years Provision

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) nursery, (b) playgroup and (c) day-care providers charged a fee in 2005-06 to make up the difference between the money received from Government to fund provision for three and four-year-olds and the cost of provision. (86389)

The information requested is not collected centrally.

The entitlement should be made available free at the point of delivery. It is not acceptable for parents to have to pay a fee or for there to be any conditions attached to the free entitlement. This would restrict the choice of provider for some families and, in some cases, deny children access to the free entitlement. Charges for care beyond the hours of the free entitlement are a private matter between the provider and parent.

From April 2006, funding for the free nursery education entitlement to local authorities has been provided through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). Local authorities have discretion over the rate at which they fund settings for delivery of early years provision.

The code of practice on the provision of free nursery education places for three and four-year-olds says that local authorities should fund provision delivered in different sectors on a fair and equitable basis, taking into account local needs and circumstances.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children are (a) taking up and (b) eligible for the free (i) nursery, (ii) playgroup and (iii) day-care provision for three and four-year-olds in 2006-07. (86390)

The information is not collected in the form requested.

Since April 2004 all three and four-year-olds have been entitled to a free, good quality, part-time early education place. The free entitlement consists of a minimum of 12.5 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year and will be extended to 15 hours a week by 2010. By that time, parents who wish to do so will also be able to access the free entitlement flexibly across a minimum of three days.

Some local authorities may additionally offer subsidised childcare places but information on this is not collected centrally.

The available information on the number of three and four-year-olds taking up free early education places is shown in table 1.

Provisional figures for January 2006 show that all four-year-old children receive some form of free entitlement. The figure for three-year-olds is 96 per cent. This covers all maintained, private, voluntary and independent providers and represents 538,800 three- year-olds and 558,200 four-year-olds.

The latest figures on early education places for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 17/2006 “Provision for children under five years of age in England—January 2006 (provisional)” in April, which is available on my Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/.

Final figures for January 2006 will be published in Statistical First Release “Provision for children under five years of age in England—January 2006 (final)” at 9:30 am on 31 August 2006, which will also be made available on my Department's website www.dfes.gov.uk/rsgateway/.

Table 1: Number of three and four-year-olds taking up nursery education places1, 2, 3 by type of early education provider, England 2002-064,position in January each year

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006 provisional

Private and voluntary providers5

Number

379,800

428,600 6

445,300 6

432,800 6

431,000 6

Percentage of population7

32

37

39

39

38

Number taking up free places

274,0008

365,1006, 8

388,6008

396,7006, 8

397,1009, 10

Percentage of population7

23

31

34

35

35

Independent schools11

Number

56,800

55,800

54,700

52,000

48,100

Percentage of population7

5

5

5

5

4

Number taking up free places

31,900 8

40,500 6, 8

38,400 8

39,200 6, 8

38,300 9, 10

Percentage of population7

3

3

3

3

3

Maintained nursery and primary schools:

Number

701,200

690,900

676,500

663,800

658,000

Percentage of population7

59

59

59

59

59

Nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools

Number

341,400

331,300

320,200

312,300

312,800

Percentage of population7

29

28

28

28

28

Infant classes in primary schools12

Number

359,900

359,500

356,300

351,500

345,200

Percentage of population7

30

31

31

31

31

Special schools 13, 14

Number

4,800

4,400

4,100

3,700

3,600

Percentage of population7

All providers15

Number

1,142,700

1,179,700 6

1,180,500 6

1,152,400 6

1,140,800

Percentage of population7

96

101

103

103

102

Number taking up free places

1,012,000

1,100,9006, 8

1,107,5008

1,103,400 6, 8

1,097,000 9, 10

Percentage of population7

85

94

97

98

98

— = less than 0.5 per cent. 1 Headcount of children aged three and four at 31 December in the previous calendar year, rounded to the nearest hundred. 2 Numbers of three and four-year-olds in schools may include some two-year-olds. 3 Any child attending more than one provider may have been counted twice. 4 Provisional 5 Includes some Local Authority providers (other than schools) registered to receive Nursery Education Grants; excludes independent schools and providers not registered to receive nursery education grants. 6Scaled up from the data as returned by providers to all providers of early years education. 7 Numbers of three and four-year-olds taking up places expressed as a percentage of the three and four-year-old population. 8 Providers returned the number of places for three and four-year-olds for which they had received or expected to receive funding. 9 Local Authorities returned the number of funded three and four-year-olds for which they expected to receive funding. 10 Scaled up from the data as returned by Local Authorities to all providers of early years education. 11 Includes direct grant nursery schools. 12 Includes reception and other classes not designated as nursery classes. 13 Includes general hospital schools. 14 Excludes pupils who are also registered elsewhere. 15 Rounding of components may cause discrepancies in totals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what the total budget is in 2006-07 for the free (a) nursery, (b) playgroup and (c) day-care provision for three and four-year-olds; (86391)

(2) what average funding his Department provided per head to local authorities for free (a) nursery, (b) playgroup and (c) day-care provision for three and four-year-olds in 2005-06.

For 2005-06, funding for children under five within the total of Schools Formula Spending Shares (FSS) was £2,886 million and the average unit of funding was £3,220 across all settings. From 2006-07, Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) replaced Schools FSS: £82 million was added to the total of DSG for 2006-07 to fund the expansion of the early years entitlement from 33 weeks to 38 weeks per year. Funding for under fives is not identified separately within DSG, and there is a single guaranteed unit of funding for each authority, the average of which is £3,640.