Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Free early years education for two-year olds in West Sussex – Liberal Democrats

Free early education will be extended to 140,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds, and parents will be able to access the free entitlement more flexibly, under plans published by the Government last week.


In West Sussex around 1,300 two-year olds are expected to benefit from the proposals.


Liberal Democrat Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, announced a consultation last Friday on how this commitment will be implemented. The plans include proposals to help parents and children alike by making the free entitlement of 15 hours per week of early education more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm across two days instead of the current three days.


Commenting, Dr Colin Wilsdon, West Sussex Children and Young People’s Spokesman said:


“Helping 1,300 two-year-old children from the poorest backgrounds in West Sussex will benefit them for years to come.


“High quality early education is the key to making a difference early on in a child’s life and help make Britain a fairer and more equal society.


“Helping people to get out of poverty and therefore improving social mobility is a Liberal Democrat priority in Government. Early years education is crucial to achieve this.


“Targeting early education at those who can benefit most is important to achieve this goal. It will be vital to disadvantaged children’s healthy and will mean they’re not falling behind before they have even started primary school.”


Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg said:


“I want us to give every child the best possible start – so free education for toddlers from the most disadvantaged homes will now be a right and not a privilege.


“Crucially the extra care will be flexible and easy to access. Parents across the country are bending over backwards to balance work and home. The Coalition wants to help in whatever way we can.”  



  1. All 152 local authorities in England have been delivering a targeted offer of between 10 and 15 hours of free early education to some of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds since September 2009. 


  1. The extension of 15 hours to all disadvantaged two-year-olds will mean an increase in the number of places across the country, from 20,000 per year to around 140,000 per year.


  1. The consultation is published by the Department of Education. It will run until 31 January 2012.


  1. The consultation includes proposals to:


    1. Make the free entitlement to 15 hours per week of early education more flexible, so it can be taken between 7am and 7pm, and spread across two days instead of the current three days.


    1. Use the criteria which are also used for free school meals to decide which disadvantaged two year olds should qualify for free early education,


    1. Include two year olds who are looked after in the eligibility criteria for free early education.


    1. Slim down statutory guidance for local authorities from 100 pages to less than 20 pages.