BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Education
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Hot Topics 
UK Systems 
League Tables 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal
"For working parents... more provision is welcome"
 real 56k

The BBC's Kim Catcheside
"Ministers say they are on target"
 real 56k

Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"This is a huge investment"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
Nurseries offer more places
Neighbourhood nurseries will create 45,000 places
Childcare places in England are to be increased, particularly in deprived areas, allowing more parents to return to work.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, announced details of a substantial increase in the availability of affordable childcare places for the under-fives.

This will include a 40m boost for pre-school education for three and four year olds in disadvantaged areas.

Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris said the government was on track to meet childcare targets

Speaking on a visit to Robert Owen Early Years Centre, the education secretary said that the government was making progress on childcare, but there was still much more to achieve.

But she asserted that in expanding pre-school education "this government has done more in four years than previous governments have done in forty".

These extra places include those funded under the Neighbourhood Nurseries initiative, announced in December 2000 by the former education secretary, David Blunkett.

This 300m childcare package will provide 45,000 extra places in 900 nursery centres, many of which will be located in disadvantaged areas.

A further 10m from the European Social Fund will fund the training of extra childcare workers.

Meeting needs

Ms Morris said there was a need for more integrated services that met the needs of parents and their children.

"I am announcing a number of childcare and early education measures that will make a major contribution to delivering quality services to families in disadvantaged areas," Ms Morris said.

"This will help us meet our ambition that by March 2004 there should be a childcare place in the most disadvantaged areas for every lone parent entering employment.

"These new places will make a real difference to children's lives and those of their parents in the most disadvantaged areas of the country," she said.


The government has set a target of creating 1.6 million extra places in nurseries, playgroups and with childminders by 2004.

In this year's election manifesto, the government set itself a deadline of 2004 to provide a part-time place for every three year old - having previously achieved its aim of a place for every four year old.

This latest announcement was central to the government meeting its targets, Ms Morris said.

Return to work

Widening access to childcare has been a consistent theme of this administration - seen as being a key to both improving educational standards and allowing more parents to return to work.

But it faced initial teething problems - with the closure of many small voluntary playgroups being attributed to the expansion of nursery classes in primary schools.

This meant that while thousands of new places were created, large numbers of places were also disappearing.

Now the government is stressing that it has found the right balance and will deliver substantial increases and improvements in this sector.

But the Liberal Democrats claimed that this was a case of "recycling" news, saying that the government was seeking credit for money that had already been announced.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

12 Dec 00 | Education
Nursery schools 'raising standards'
06 Jun 00 | Education
Free places for all three year olds
17 May 01 | Education
Concerns over pre-school expansion
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories