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Early education – 2, 3 and 4 year old offer

_MG_0641High quality early education sits alongside health as an important determinant of children’s life chances. All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education per week

A growing number of disadvantaged 2 year olds are now accessing free early education and by 2014-15 this will be extended to 40% of 2 year olds. This will mean that around thirteen times more children should be able to access free early education at age 2 – more than 260,000 children nationally.

A diverse range of providers deliver early education: childminders, nurseries, pre-schools and reception classes in the maintained, voluntary, private and independent sectors. Whilst each provider has their own unique systems and structures for doing this, all adhere to the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework unless exempted from the learning and development aspects by government.

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  • Pre-school Learning Alliance (PSLA) – PSLA is a leading early years membership organisation and one of the largest providers of quality childcare in England.
  • National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) – the national charity and membership association promoting best-quality care and early learning for children in nurseries across the UK. NDNA supports its members to develop their quality of care and to run a healthy sustainable business by providing members with information, training and support. NDNA works closely with its members to represent the sector to government, local authorities and the media.
  • Montessori – The Montessori St Nicholas charity is a UK resource for information on Montessori education, teacher training and jobs. Montessori is a holistic approach to education and aims to develop the whole child. Fundamental to the approach is the belief that a child’s early years, from birth to age 6, is the period when they have the greatest capacity to learn. There are over 600 UK Montessori schools and 22,000 worldwide.
  • Steiner – Steiner early years settings provide an unhurried and creative learning environment where children can find the joy in learning and experience the richness of childhood rather than early specialisation or academic hot-housing.
  • Independent Schools Council – the umbrella body serving the associations which represent 1,234 independent schools and educate more than 500,000 children in the UK, Ireland and overseas.
  • Family and Childcare Trust – aims to make the UK a better place for families, through research, campaigning and information provision, and working with government, employers and parents to reduce pressures on family life.
  • London Early Years Foundation – a childcare charity and social enterprise whose ambition is to build a better future for London’s children, families and local communities through a commitment to excellence in Early Years education, training and research.
  • Busy Bees – Busy Bees Childcare provide children’s nurseries and daycare across the UK.
  • Asquith Day Nurseries – provides childcare in 81 settings.
  • 4Children – from children’s centres to out of school clubs, childcare, play provision and parenting support, 4Children is at the forefront of delivery and supporting innovative children’s services.
  • Action for Children – helping to ensure children, families, and communities get the best start in life. Run over 120 projects throughout rural, urban and inner-city England, helping over 90,000 children and families get the early support they need.
  • The Children’s Society – The Children’s Society runs several children’s centres in England that support children under 5 and their parents or carers. They assist families from all backgrounds including new migrant families, young parents and travelling families.
  • Bertram Nursery Group – caring for children in a fun, imaginative and stimulating learning environment.
  • Bright Horizons – Bright Horizons Nurseries create safe, soothing and stimulating environments in which children can play, discover and develop all of the skills needed to become a confident, positive and well-rounded individual.
  • Childbase – each nursery follows a set of principles linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage. Particular focus is on the child centred approach which respects the needs and abilities of each individual child in their care.
  • Happy Days Nurseries – specialise in extending the emotional security parents offer at home into the nursery, to enable children to feel safe and secure at all times.
  • Just Learning – Just Learning is one of the UK’s leading nursery providers, caring for children and working in partnership with parents since 1996.
  • Kids 1st Day Nurseries – Kids 1st Nurseries aim to provide excellence in childcare across the North East of England.
  • Little Acorns Group – Provide quality and diversity of age-appropriate learning experiences and activities. An age-appropriate activity programme is provided throughout children’s nursery education.
  • Toad Hall Nursery Group – Children benefit from a high quality early years experience and at Toad Hall the focus is on developing their early language and communication, their enjoyment of the outdoors and their ability to make friends and play well with other children.
  • Treetops Nurseries – Treetops are a top 10 countrywide nursery group, who offer compassionate, professional care for children in a fun and loving environment.

Special educational needs

The 2014 SEN Code of Practice, which governs early education can be found here.

There is a guide to help parents and carers understand what special educational needs are and what they can do if they are worried that the child they are caring for may be having difficulties at, or before, they go to school.


Local Authority Childcare Sufficiency Assessment

We have published a number of case studies on LA Sufficiency Assessments.

You can view case studies looking at Blackpool, Bristol and Merton LAs