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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Childcare swings and roundabouts
nursery school
Overall, more places have been created
The number of daycare places for young children in England has gone up over the past year.

Daycare places 2000-2001
Nurseries
+20,900
Out-of-school clubs
+11,700
Playgroups
-22,900
Childminders
-5,800
Nurseries and out-of-school clubs have continued to increase, according to figures supplied by local councils.

But the overall rise masks a fall in the numbers of playgroups and childminders.

The provisional official statistics, released on Wednesday, show there were 300 more day nurseries between March 2000 and March 2001 - a rise of 3%.

These accounted for 20,900 more places (8% more).

Out-of-school clubs

Playgroups declined by the same number, 300 or 2% of the total - a loss of 22,900 places (6%).

And there were 3,300 (4%) fewer childminders, who had provided places for 15,800 children (a 5% fall).

Five hundred more out-of-school clubs (11%) are reported. And there were many more holiday schemes - although the actual number is unclear because each scheme is counted once for each holiday during which it operates.

The Daycare Trust, a charity which campaigns for affordable childcare, said the gap between the services that existed and those that families needed was still huge.

There was now one childcare place for every 6.7 children under the age of eight, despite the substantial investment made since the National Childcare Strategy was launched in 1998.

'Desperately needed'

The trust's director, Stephen Burke, said: "These latest figures show how far the government still has to go to deliver childcare for all."

On Tuesday the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, announced plans for 45,000 more places in 900 nurseries in deprived parts of the country.

In the four years since March 1997 the numbers of day nurseries and out-of-school clubs have risen by 1,700 and 2,300 respectively, while the numbers of playgroups and childminders have fallen by 1,800 and 26,200.

The numbers of places in day nurseries, out of school clubs and holiday schemes have risen by 91,300, 74,100 and 385,500 respectively and the numbers of places in playgroups and with childminders have fallen by 53,500 and 60,600 respectively.

Mr Burke said: "The 900 new neighbourhood nurseries announced yesterday are desperately needed by children and parents who have yet to see any benefits from the National Childcare Strategy.

"But the massive childcare gap highlights the need for much greater public investment if all children and parents are to get the childcare services they need."

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See also:

24 Jul 01 | Education
Nurseries offer more places
24 Jul 01 | Education
Nurseries open doors for parents
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
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