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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Nursery centres expanded
Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris has announced a further 14 centres
Families with young children are promised an expansion in "high quality childcare", as the education secretary announces more "early excellence centres".

Education Secretary Estelle Morris, attending the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton, announced a further 14 centres, in a programme which aims to have 100 such centres across England by 2004.

Early excellence centres are intended to provide state-of-the-art services for pre-school children and their families - providing childcare and allowing parents to return to work.

And as "beacons of excellence" they will be expected to play a leading role in training local people in childcare skills.

'Holistic'

As well as providing nursery places for children, these centres are also intended to offer an integrated range of support services, including parenting advice.

"These centres are designed to be beacons of excellence for early years and childcare services," said Ms Morris.

"They show how education, care and other family support can be brought together to offer integrated, holistic services for parents and young children all day, and throughout the year."

The latest phase of centres will be based in Hackney, Wirral, Hillingdon, Derby, Birmingham, Lewisham, North Guildford, Rotherham, Islington, Kingston upon Thames, Truro and Herefordshire.

There are now designations for 49 early excellence centres, with the target for 100 set out in February in the Building on Success consultation paper.

Improving early years education has been a longstanding promise from the government - with a manifesto commitment to providing a free place for all three year olds.

See also:

24 Jul 01 | Features
Nurseries open doors for parents
24 Jul 01 | Education
Nurseries offer more places
06 Jun 00 | Education
Free places for all three year olds
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