Pre-school choices for chil­dren un­veiled

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

MORE pre-school choices are ex­pected to be made avail­able for par­ents in Bucks as new fund­ing rules for early years places have been un­veiled.

Bucks County Coun­cil (BCC) will now fund free early ed­u­ca­tion places for chil­dren in nurs­ery or re­cep­tion class at an in­de­pen­dent school, in light of new guid­ance from the gov­ern­ment.

In 2012 early ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing was with­drawn for pupils who have a full­time place at a re­cep­tion class in Bucks, but end up at­tend­ing an in­de­pen­dent school.

Ev­ery three and four year-old in the coun­try is en­ti­tled to 15 hours a week of free early ed­u­ca­tion paid for by gov­ern­ment – known as free en­ti­tle­ment fund­ing – be­fore they reach the com­pul­sory school age.

Now new in­for­ma­tion from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion states that fund­ing can be of­fered to in­de­pen­dent schools to pro­vide free en­ti­tle­ment places.

There are cur­rently eight in­de­pen­dent schools in the county of­fer­ing free en­ti­tle­ment places, how­ever BCC hopes the new fund­ing rules will see the fig­ure in­crease.

A re­port pre­sented to BCC’s schools fo­rum on Tues­day stated: “In June 2018 the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion up­dated their ‘early ed­u­ca­tion and child­care statu­tory guid­ance for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties June 2018’ and in July 2018 gave fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion to the up­date via a let­ter to all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“In this they state that ‘Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties can fund a range of providers to de­liver 15 and 30 hours free child­care, in­clud­ing in­de­pen­dent schools, where free places can be de­liv­ered via their nurs­ery and/or re­cep­tion classes’.

“The foot­note in the guid­ance states that this is not ap­pli­ca­ble to chil­dren tak­ing up a place in a state-funded re­cep­tion class or a full-time place in an in­de­pen­dent school re­cep­tion class with is funded by the lo­cal au­thor­ity.”

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