HC Deb 22 January 2003 vol 398 cc370-1W
Mr. Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what progress has been made towards meeting the 2004 target for having free nursery places available to all three year-olds; and for what reason such places are not yet available to all three year-olds. [89554]

Maria Eagle

Currently around 70 per cent. of three year-olds are able to access a free, part-time early education place. The 65 most deprived local education authorities already offer a free place to all three year-olds whose parents want one. The remaining authorities are responsible for devising eligibility criteria for the distribution of free places in their area according to social need.

On 11 December 2002, Charles Clarke announced that all three year-olds will be entitled to receive a free place from April 2004. This is six months earlier than originally planned.

It has been necessary to increase gradually the number of free early education places available for three year-olds in order to allow authorities time to build up the amount of provision in their areas.

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