Education: Nurseries

House of Lords written question – answered on 29th March 2011.

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Photo of Lord True Lord True Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 17 March (HL 7488), on what basis providers of nursery education may charge for additional hours and services outside the hours for which they receive funding from local authorities; how the level of those charges relate to the level of charges permitted under price controls on hours for which funding is received; and whether the Government will clarify in law the right to make such charges.

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 17 March (HL 7488), why top-up fees are allowed for university education but not for nursery education.

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Hill of Oareford on 17 March (HL 7488), what are the other private sectors that are subject to similar price control policies.

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

Providers are free to decide whether they wish to offer parents the free nursery education which is funded by LAs.

There are no restrictions on what providers may charge parents for additional hours of early education outside the universal free 15 hours. This is a private matter between provider and parent. Where providers have, however, chosen to accept public funding for free places, parents' access to those free places should not be made conditional on the purchase of additional hours.

Funding for free entitlement places is just one part of a broader package of public support that providers can access. Many receive training and other assistance from their local authority to support improvements in quality and secure sufficient childcare provision. The Government hope that providers will continue to choose to be part of the free entitlement scheme, providing valuable early learning to children. However, the Government also accept that, for some, delivering the free early education may not fit with their business models.

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