All local authorities in England have a duty to secure sufficient childcare places to meet the requirements of parents in their area in order to enable them to work or undertake education or training leading to work. They must also secure free early years provision for pre-school children of a prescribed age.
The Department publishes information on the part-time equivalent number of free early education places filled by three and four year-olds. This is derived by counting children taking up 12 and a half hours per week as one place, 10 hours per week as 0.8 places, seven and a half hours per week as 0.6 places, five hours per week as 0.4 places and two and a half hours per week as 0.2 places.
The latest information on the number of free early education places filled by three and four year-olds can be found in Table 5 of the Statistical First Release Provision for Children Under Five Years of Age in England: January 2009. The latest figures can be found at the following link:
Information on nursery school places per head of population has not been included. This is because children can access their free entitlement across different local authority areas and therefore part time equivalent places are not on an equivalent basis with the local authority population figures. Population figures at this level of disaggregation are also not as reliable as at the national level.