NATIONAL AUDIT OFFICE: Delivering the free entitlement to education for three- and four-year olds
A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
It is welcome news that almost all children take advantage of free education on offer for under fives. Take-up of education for three- and four-year-olds has been over 95% since 2008.
Parents will be concerned that the quality varies so much across the country. It is particularly worrying that areas with high levels of deprivation are less likely to have the best quality for children. We will want to explore what the Government proposes to do to ensure that children in deprived areas access high quality early years education.
Almost £2 billion a year is spent on free education for three-and four-year olds. The Department’s research suggests that early year education can have a lasting influence on children’s education, particularly those from the poorest backgrounds. However, long term education benefits are not being achieved. To deliver value for money this needs to be addressed. The Department must improve how it assesses the longer-term benefits to make the most out of this investment in the education of young children.
The report is available to read on the National Audit Office website.