(2) what evidence his Department has considered on the percentage value of the nursery education grant which local education authorities are passing to providers; and if he will make a statement.
We do not provide guidance to local authorities on ‘topslicing’ nursery education funding. Funding for the free entitlement to early education for three and four-year-olds is provided to local authorities through the dedicated schools grant (DSG), alongside funding for all pre-16 learning. Local authorities—in consultation with their school forums—are responsible for deciding how best to apply their total school and early years funding across all age groups and between different types of provider, based on an assessment of local circumstances.
The Schools, Early Years and 14-16 Funding consultation which ends on 1 June sets out a number of proposals for changes to the way the early years funding system operates. As part of our consideration of these options and to assess their impact, the Department is developing a more comprehensive evidence base of current practice around the country. We asked all authorities to complete a questionnaire, by 18 May 2007, setting out how they allocate and distribute free entitlement funding to maintained schools and to private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers. We are also working with authorities to produce estimates of the level of funding allocated to early years in each local authority and its distribution between the PVI and maintained sectors in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
We intend to collate and publish both the questionnaire responses and the levels of funding in each local authority so that authorities can benchmark their approaches to funding the free entitlement.