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Nursery Education

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of nursery schools is (a) state-funded, (b) voluntary and (c) private; and if he will make a statement. (94903)

Since April 2004 all three and four-year-olds have been entitled to a free, good quality, part-time early education place. As at January 2006 there were 37,500 providers delivering the free entitlement, of which, 43 per cent. were maintained nursery and primary schools, 52 per cent. were private or voluntary providers, 3 per cent. were registered independent schools and 1 per cent. were special schools.

Figures for January 2006 show that virtually all four-year-old children receive some form of free entitlement. The figure for three-year-olds is 96 per cent. As the free entitlement has been rolled out to all three and four-year-olds the greatest expansion of places has been in private, voluntary and independent settings. Of all children accessing the free entitlement in 2006, 39 per cent. did so in private, voluntary and independent settings, compared to just 12 per cent. in 2000.

The latest figures on early education places for three and four-year-olds in England were published in Statistical First Release 32/2006 “Provision for children under five years of age in England—January 2006 (final)” in September, which is available on my Department's website