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Free Nursery Places

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the impact on private and independent nursery providers of the new code of practice on the funding of free nursery places for three and four-year-olds. (93496)

The single substantive change to the delivery of the free early education entitlement made in the 2006 code of practice was the extension of the free entitlement from 33 to 38 weeks. We conducted a full public consultation on the 2006 code from June to October 2005, to which 585 responses were received, the majority from private providers who were generally content with the proposed extension to 38 weeks. A summary of responses is available at: consultationld=1329

Additional funding of £82 million in financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 has been made available to local authorities to deliver the additional weeks and a number of measures were included in the code of practice to aid the transition, to support parental choice and to reflect provider circumstances. These included: allowing that the 38 weeks provision could be delivered by a single provider or by providers in cooperation; indicating that where a parent decided explicitly that they wanted to take their provision with a provider offering only 33 weeks they could do so and the provider would be paid for that period; and recommending that the transition be phased over a year.