1,100 New Free Nursery Places Coming to Borough

Council cabinet set to approve plans for Government millions

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Hammersmith & Fulham is set to have 1,100 new free nursery places, using £2.8 milllion in Government funding.

The places will be created in the borough’s existing children’s centres and independent nurseries, and with childminders, if the council’s cabinet agrees to the proposals next Monday, February 11.

The council says the extra places will provide eligible two year-olds with 570 hours of free early childhood education over the course of a year giving them a real head start and offering working parents the childcare they need.

By 2014, 40% of two-year-olds in the borough will receive a free nursery place, according to the council, adding that the news comes on top of the continued expansion of early years services which has seen the number of sessions at children’s centres double since 2011, and visits reaching an all-time high of almost 20,000.

The cabinet is also being asked to approve the extension of all contracts with current providers in H&F’s 16 children’s centres for up to two years. This will allow more detailed discussions with existing providers over where the additional nursery places could be provided.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Helen Binmore, said: "This is a massive expansion of our early childhood services and will offer services to more two-year-olds than ever before."

Alongside the expansion in nursery places, the Government is changing the ring-fencing arrangements for early years services grants to give local authorities more flexibility to improve local services. This is accompanied by a change in the Ofsted inspection arrangements which in H&F will mean groups of centre being inspected together, reducing the inspection burden on local services. It will mean only six inspections will be needed in H&F instead of each individual centre being assessed.

 

February 6, 2013