Delivering the free entitlement to education for three- and four- year olds: Department for Education
The national take-up rate for three and four-year-olds in early education has been sustained at 95 per cent since 2008, despite an eight per cent increase in eligible children. There are however, wide variations in take-up between local authorities. Take-up for children from the most disadvantaged families is lower than overall take-up, and access to high quality provision varies depending on where children live. The percentage of good or outstanding provision across local authorities in March 2011 ranged from 64 per cent to 97 per cent. Areas of highest deprivation are less likely to have high quality provision. Children's level of development at age five has improved, but National Key Stage One results at age seven show almost no improvement since 2007. Although the relationship between the entitlement and Key Stage One results is not straightforward, the Department intended the entitlement to have lasting effects on child development throughout primary school and beyond. It is not yet clear, however, that the entitlement is leading to longer-term educational benefits, and the Department does not yet have robust measures to demonstrate whether the longer-term benefits it expects are being realised. The Department also lacks a robust analysis of the relationship between performance and funding levels. The NAO's analysis found that local authorities which fund providers of the free entitlement at a higher rate were not necessarily those with high-quality provision. There are also limitations in the information available to help parents choose where and how their children use the entitlement.
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15 hours 59 per cent additional funding age five April assessments of provider Audit Office analysis Benchmarking Other comparisons Childcare Act 2006 childminders children’s development Comptroller and Auditor criteria Dedicated Schools Grant delivering the entitlement delivering the free Department for Education disadvantaged children Early Years Foundation eligible end of Key entitlement to 15 extending the entitlement factors Figure Foundation Stage profile Four-year-olds free early education free entitlement funded hours funding arrangements funding formula funding per hour funding rates GCSE high-quality provision hours per week identify improve transparency increase take-up Key Stage local funding formula longer-term benefits maintained providers median wages million National Audit Office non-maintained providers non-maintained settings nursery classes nursery schools offering the entitlement outstanding by Ofsted outstanding inspection judgements pathfinder authorities percentage of providers provider costs providers rated qualified staff quality of provision receiving the entitlement reception classes September 2010 Source three-year-olds value for money