It is provisionally estimated that at January, 1972, 14,625 children were receiving nursery education in education authority and grant-aided schools and classes. The comparable figure for 1968 was 7,606 and for 1964. 5,758.
The figures show that the number of places has just about doubled in four years and that there has been a real improvement in the situation. Does my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary agree that this has been one of the most neglected sides of education for far too long and will he assure us that there will be continued expansion?
There has been certainly a marked increase under the urban aid programme in recent years, and as facilities are improved for the primary, secondary and further education sectors, a greater emphasis will be placed on the provision of facilities for children under five.
In the light of these figures, would not a progressive and radical Government undertake that in their future priorities in education, nursery school provision would be treated as part of the educational system?
The most efficient government must always get their priorities right. We must complete the primary, secondary and further education sectors before we put the emphasis on provision for the under-fives.