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Delivering the Free Entitlement to Education for Three- and Four-Year-Olds: Department for Education

HC 1789, Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Session 2010-12

National Audit Office (NAO)
TSO (The Stationery Office)

The national take-up rate for three- and four-year-olds in early education has been sustained at 95% since 2008 despite an 8% increase in eligible children, 'Delivering the Free Entitlement to Education for Three- and Four-Year-Olds: Department for Education (HC 1789)' finds. 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% to 97%. 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.

Extent 38 pages ISBN 9780102975383
Size A4 Price £16.00
Format Paperback Published 03 Feb 2012
Availability Colour copy: 3 - 5 days Availability help (opens in new window) Delivery Delivery options and charges
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