A national scheme to extend free early years education to two-year-olds living in low-income households has got off to a flying start in South Gloucestershire.
Some 479 children have had places provided by the council under the scheme, a take-up rate of 87 per cent of all eligible children.
The government had originally allocated funding for 439 places in South Gloucestershire assuming a take-up rate of 80 per cent.
But close working between South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and local childcare providers means that more children than anticipated have been able to take part in the first wave of the scheme which began on 1st September.
Welcoming the news, chair of the council’s Children and Young People Committee Cllr Ian Blair said:
“This scheme has many benefits, both for children and their parents, and I am delighted to see that we have made such a positive start in South Gloucestershire.”
“By working with our partners in the private, voluntary and independent sectors we have been able to make an early success of the scheme and I look forward to further positive progress in the coming months.”
The early years education scheme aims to improve children’s learning while supporting their parents or carers to get training or a job.
Eligible families, such as those receiving income support or Jobseekers Allowance, can receive up to 15 hours of free early years education per week delivered flexibly to suit family circumstances.
The scheme is funded by national government, with local authorities responsible for engaging eligible families and arranging places with childcare providers.
The government estimated that 550 children would be eligible for a place in South Gloucestershire this year, with funding provided for 439 places based on a target of 80 per cent take-up.
Further funding will be provided to allow expansion to double the number of places available during the next year, with additional places provided each term starting in January, April and September 2014.
More information: Childcare (SGC)