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Heads of Early Years.


On 30 May 2012, the Department published its response to the recent Early Education and Childcare consultation and has confirmed proposals to:

  • make the current entitlement to 15 hours a week of free early education for three- and four-year-olds more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm and spread across two days instead of the current minimum of three days
  • introduce a clear and consistent framework for assessing whether a provider is of a high enough quality to deliver free early education
  • use the criteria used for free school meals to decide which two-year-olds should qualify for free early education from September 2013
  • include two-year-olds who are looked after by the state in the eligibility criteria for free early education
  • pass funding for free early education for two-year-olds to local authorities via the Dedicated Schools Grant from 2013-14.

The accompanying statutory guidance which has been slimmed down from 100 pages to less than 20 is available on the Department's website.

The Department has also made a series of announcements including the location of a series of trial areas where, in part of a local authority, those two-year-olds who would be eligible for the entitlement will be able to access a free place from September this year.

Action required and due date

To note.