Free care for 600 children

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

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AROUND 600 Blackpool children will get access to free education from the age of two as the Government brings in plans to improve their life chances.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced he will transform free early education and Blackpool has been picked as one of the country’s 10 pilot areas.

From September, hundreds of two-year-olds in Blackpool will be eligible for around 15 hours of free early education. The scheme was supposed to start from 2013.

Currently, all three and four-year-olds are eligible for the pre-schooling but plans were developed to extend the offer to younger children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

And the move will make a massive difference to their lives according to Sue Harrison, director of children’s services at Blackpool Council.

She said: “We are delighted to have secured additional resources which will improve outcomes for our two-year-olds.

“Successful early intervention makes a real difference to future life chances and the provision for two-year-olds is a vital element of this.

“We look forward to sharing our learning through the trial with other local authorities across the country.”

A series of new changes are also being brought in to childcare, including greater flexibility for parents so care can be arranged between 7am and 7pm instead of 8am and 6pm.

Free nursery places will be able to be spread over two days rather than three to help parents who want to work part time.

Finally, the need to pay to access their child’s free early education place is also being revised to allow nursery places to be taken by more parents.

Mr Clegg said: “We’re revolutionising the early start our children get in life – there will be more free childcare, it will be higher quality, and it will be more flexible for parents.

“By getting things right from the off we’re making sure our youngsters are ready to learn when they start school so that they get the most out of their education.

“Every child should have a fair crack at the whip from the start and be able to go on to fulfil their potential.”