Online help for parents choosing nurseries and childminders

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PARENTS can now go online to compare nurseries and childminders in their area.

Ofsted’s website now contains information on different pre-school providers to help parents choose where to send their children.

It will mean that an individual can compare how many nurseries and childminders rated good or outstanding there are in any given area.

The announcement comes as Ministers published details of how much money each local council in England will receive to provide early-years education for around 130,000 disadvantaged two-year-olds from next September.

Under the current system, three and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education each week.

Ministers have previously announced plans to extend this to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds.

The Department for Education (DfE) said yesterday that in total, councils will receive more than half a billion pounds to fund these new places next year.

Each local authority will receive an average of £5.09 per child per hour, which they will be expected to pass on to schools, nurseries and childminders, the DfE said.

The department said it was urging councils to raise awareness of the places so that families take up the offer.

In future, councils will be funded on a “use it or lose it basis”, the DfE said, with less money going to those areas where parents are not taking up the places. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that 130,000 of the most disadvantaged two-year-olds will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week.

Double that number are set to benefit the following year.

Coun David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s children and young people’s board, said: “Councils support the aim of extending education provision for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

“Driving social mobility and improving the life chances of this group of children is an ambition all councils share.

“However, it should not be down to Whitehall to stipulate the criteria for identifying which children are eligible for free early education from September 2014.

“Councils know the needs of local children best and it should be down to their discretion to decide which children benefit from the increase in provision.

“They have the knowledge and understanding of their communities to be able to tailor the scheme to local circumstances.

“What may be appropriate in one area may not be the best approach in another.”