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Achieving Two Year Olds project is launched this month

Mott MacDonald with its partner Hempsall’s has been appointed by the Department for Education to support the rollout of free early education places for less advantaged two-year olds.

The Government is introducing a legal requirement to secure free provision, through regulations under section 6 of the Childcare Act 2006. This requires that the least advantaged two-year-olds will be entitled to 570 hours of free early education over the course of the year.

The Government plans to take a phased approach to the implementation of the new entitlement. Around 130,000 children (20%) will be entitled to free places from September 2013. Eligible children are expected to be those living in households which meet the criteria used for free school meals, and looked after children. The entitlement will then be extended to around 260,000 eligible two-year-olds from September 2014. Consultation on criteria for this stage has now been initiated by the DfE.

The support project, known as Achieving Two Year Olds (A2YO), starts this month and runs until March 2015. It will be delivered by Mott MacDonald (including Cambridge Education) and early years and childcare specialists Hempsall’s. Both organisations have worked together for the past three years combining Hempsall’s specialism in supporting local authorities and providers in the early years sector, and Mott MacDonald’s strengths in education, resources, and project management.

The project will offer support across all 152 local authorities in England with developing capacity to meet the new entitlement; support the improvement of quality of provision so that it best meets the needs of two-year-olds; and stimulate parental demand for free early education places.

The project is structured around the engagement and full involvement of local authorities and providers. Self-evaluation forms (SEFs), a raft of regional and sub-regional events, and a sharing of tools, ideas and resources are key to the approach. There are plans for a further programme of commissioned projects and support that will aim to benefit local authorities and providers alike.

Across the summer, the project will be working hard to establish its relationships with local authorities, review completed SEFs, launch a central information hub which will host useful resources and tools, and open up dialogues.

The A2YO team is totally committed to ensuring resources and support are targeted to need and offer a real benefit for both local authorities and providers. The process will enable the project to jointly identify needs and commission an extensive programme of support from our other partners to achieve these outcomes.

The team are looking forward to working alongside the department, local authorities and providers to support the implementation of this important programme to increase access to early education for less advantaged two-year-old children.

Contact [email protected] more information. Look out for more information about our early progress in September

Two Years Free Entitlement Consultation

The consultation on the on new eligibility criteria for September 2014 is currently open. This consultation includes the extension of the free entitlement to around 40% of two-year-olds. The consultation is available here and closes on 15th October.

Launch of commission on childcare call for evidence

On 19 June the Prime Minister announced a commission on childcare led by Sarah Teather, Minister for Children and Families, and Maria Miller, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DWP. The commission will look at how to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare for working families, particularly wrap around and holiday care for school age children, and how to reduce burdens on childcare providers, without compromising the safety or quality of provision.

A call for evidence to inform the work of the commission has been published today. It will run until 31 August. To find out more about the commission and to take part in its call for evidence please visit: or .

Children’s centre payment by results trials

Twenty six local authorities are working with the Department for Education to trial payment by results schemes designed to incentivise a stronger focus on early intervention. The trials will test the impact of payment by results on local decision making and service planning for young children and their families. Trial local authorities are taking part in a national payment by results scheme with the Department for Education and are testing local arrangements with children’s centres.

As part of the national scheme each trial area has chosen to be paid by results for the improvements they make (between April 2012 and March 2013) across two of the following measures:

  • Narrow the gap between the proportion of pupils achieving a good level of development (in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile) that are eligible for free school meals and those that are not.
  • Increase the proportion of disadvantaged two year old children taking up early education paid for by the local authority.
  • Increase the prevalence of breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks.

Local authorities have identified their own measures for local schemes with children’s centres. An evaluation of the trials will explore if and how payment by results could be used in future to incentivise early intervention. A report will be published next summer.

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