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Education: Nurseries

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of The Earl of Listowel The Earl of Listowel Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have removed the requirement that each nursery be led by a graduate professional.

Photo of Lord Hill of Oareford Lord Hill of Oareford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

There has never been a requirement for all early education and care settings to be led by a graduate professional. We have, however, recently removed the overly prescriptive requirement for all Sure Start children's centres in the most disadvantaged areas to provide full day care, and the associated requirement that this provision be delivered by both a qualified teacher (QT) and an early years professional (EYP).

In the past, children's centres in the most disadvantaged areas were required to provide full day care, i.e. 10 hours a day, five days a week, for 48 weeks a year. However, the National Audit Office memorandum for the Children, Schools and Families Committee, December 2009, suggested that in some areas, when demand for full day care is low, money intended for other Sure Start services-like family support and outreach to vulnerable families-is subsidising the provision of early education and care.

We do expect children's centres to continue to play a critical role in early education and care, including providing and encouraging take-up of free nursery education for two, three, and four-year-olds and additional hours where there is demand. Furthermore, where children's centres in disadvantaged areas offer early education, we would expect this to be of the highest standard and delivered by either a QT or an EYP.

The Government remain committed to investing in the quality of the early education and childcare workforce, and will develop proposals to support this by March 2011. The recent local authority and school funding settlement provides for the ongoing support and development of the workforce. From April 2011 Funding is being made available through a new simplified early intervention grant. Continued national investment in the early years workforce includes the funding of places on the early years professional status programme and the new leaders in early years programme which began in November.

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