To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many and what proportion of (a) two, (b) three and (c) four year olds whose parents use the free entitlement to child care receive the maximum number of free hours available.
Virtually all four year olds and 95 per cent. of three year olds take up some of their free early education entitlement. At present, pupils in the maintained sector are counted only as "full time" or "part time", but from this summer, data will be collected via the School Census on the hours of free entitlement taken.
An estimate from the Childcare and Early Years Parents survey in 2007 showed that of the eligible three and four year olds benefiting from the free entitlement, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent.) had used 12-hours or more of their entitlement.
The first phase of the free entitlement for two year olds was for 7.5-hours per week in 32 local authorities which reached approximately 13,500 children between 2006-08. From April 2009, these local authorities, along with a further 31, will move to deliver up to 15-hours a week over 38-weeks a year. From September 2009 all remaining local authorities will begin delivering up to 10-hours a week, over 38-weeks a year. The different number of hours that will be delivered is a deliberate step to allow us to evaluate a range of approaches.
The latest figures on early education places for three and four year olds in England were published in Statistical First Release (SFR) 12/2008 "Provision for children under five years of age in England: January 2008", available on my Department's website: