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At the beginning of November the Department for Education will launch a major Early Education and Childcare consultation, as outlined in the July publication of Supporting Families in the Foundation Years.

The Department is consulting on:

  • The content of the revised Code of Practice on free early education, which aims to reduce national prescription and enable more children to access their full entitlement.
  • Defining and introducing a basket of ‘quality’ eligibility criteria that providers of free early education will need to meet in order to receive funding.
  • If and how the eligibility criteria for the 2 year old entitlement, when introduced in September 2013, should be more rigorous than the 3 and 4 year old entitlement.
  • Small but significant changes to the free entitlement which would enable the free hours to be used slightly earlier (from 7am rather than 8am) or slightly later (to 7pm rather than 6pm), but with a maximum of ten free hours per day; and to enable providers to offer the full entitlement over two days rather than a minimum of three.
  • Repealing the Section 11 duty, which requires local authorities to publish nationally prescribed sufficiency assessments every three years, and replacing it with local annual reports.

This consultation period will last for 12 weeks and is the sector’s opportunity to give their views to the Department. As well as a formal consultation going online on the Department for Education’s consultation website (, officials from the Department will be organising consultation events and coming to speak at events run by key organisations in the sector. These events – see the timetable below – will give you a chance to speak directly to the Department and will enable you to explore in detail the consultation proposals.

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