Previous Section Index Home Page

Child Care (Regulation)

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many child care professionals the Government estimate are working in the UK. [69139]

Estelle Morris: The latest published Childcare Workforce Survey shows that in spring 2001 there were 274,520 paid employees, working in nurseries (94,294), playgroups (79,800), Out of School Clubs (28,126) and child minders (72,300), in England.

The latest quarterly Labour Force Survey for spring 2001, which uses a wider definition of child care and covers the whole of the UK, shows that there were 305,000 paid employees within the child care sector.

Nursery Education

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what proportion of three-year-olds were in nursery education on (a) 1 May 1997, (b) 31 December 1998, (c) 31 December 2001 and (d) the latest date for which information is available; and if she will make a statement. [69296]

Estelle Morris [holding answer 11 July 2002]: The available information on three-year-olds in early years education provision is shown in the following table.

Percentage(19) of three-year-olds(20) by type of early years education provider 1997–2002 (provisional estimates)
position in January each year—England

Private and voluntary providers(21)(22)(22)(22)444747
Independent schools444444
Nursery and primary schools:343537383737
Nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools34353737(22)37
Infant classes in primary schools(23)
Special schools(24)
All providers(25)384042868989

(19) Number of three-year-olds attending provider expressed as a percentage of the three-year-old population.

(20) Any child attending more than one provider may have been counted twice.

(21) Includes some local authority providers (other than schools) registered to receive nursery education grants; excludes independent schools and providers not registered to receive nursery education grants.

(22) Not available.

(23) Includes reception and other classes not designated as nursery classes.

(24) Includes general hospital schools.

(25) Private and voluntary provider information was not available for the years 1997–99.

We are committed to providing all three-year-olds, whose parents want one, with a free nursery education place by September 2004.

Latest figures on three-year-olds in early years education providers were published by the Department in the Statistical First Release "Provision for Children Under Five Years of Age in England—2002 (Provisional Estimates) (09/2002)" in May 2002, a copy of which is available from the Library. An electronic copy of this publication is also available on the Department's website ( statistics).

Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the annual cost is of providing a child with five full days per week in a nursery school in the latest year for which figures are available [69749]

Estelle Morris: My Department does not collect the information requested.

In England all funding for full and part-time nursery education places for four-year-olds, along with the majority of funding for three-year-olds, in the local authority maintained sector, is determined locally.

The balance of funding for three-year-olds comes through the Nursery Education Grant. In 2002–03 the grant for a free, part-time early education place for three- year-olds is £1,218 per child. This funding purchases five, two and a half hour sessions per week, for 33 weeks per year.

23 Jul 2002 : Column 995W

Special Educational Needs

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what guidelines exist on the provision of pre-school education to children with special educational needs. [69721]

Estelle Morris: All children in the early years should be treated as individuals to ensure each has equal opportunity to develop their full potential. This message is reinforced throughout the joint DfES/Qualifications and Curriculum Authority publication, "Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage", which has been made available to all early years practitioners. The guidance stresses the importance of early intervention and the key role practitioners play in identifying learning needs, and in the planning required to support those needs.

The requirements of the Nursery Education Grant require all early years settings that receive it to have an SEN policy and have regard to the revised SEN Code of Practice. We included a new chapter in the revised SEN Code of Practice entitled, "Identification, Assessment and Provision in Early Education Settings", which expands significantly on SEN provision for children under five years of age. In addition, the SEN and Disability Act 2001 enables private, voluntary and independent sector settings to request statutory assessments for the four year olds in their care, and for three year olds by 2004 when we expect universal provision for this age group.

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what financial support is available to children with special educational needs to attend mainstream pre-school in the same circumstances as other children. [69722]

Estelle Morris: In March 2001, we announced a £25 million three year programme to support children with disabilities or special educational needs in the early years. This funding supports a number of DfES SEN and disability initiatives all of which are focused on enabling children with SEN to participate in mainstream provision. These initiatives include £9.5 million for local training over three years of identified Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) in the private, voluntary and independent sector early years settings; £11 million additional funding for LEAs and Early Years Development and Child care Partnerships (EYDCPs) this financial year and the next, to support and improve existing SEN support activities; £3 million for support services such as Portage schemes, projects aimed at early identification and intervention for SEN, and better resources for children with low incidence disability; and £1 million for the development of national training materials to support local SEN training activity. The funding has also resourced 4 Area SENCO pilot projects in 2001–02. We are drafting guidance following the conclusion of the pilot projects on the role and objectives of Area SENCOs, and encouraging EYDCPs to start developing networks of "Area SENCOs" who will work with early years settings by the autumn of this year.

The Department continues to work closely with EYDCPs who are making SEN and disability support a priority over the three financial years 2001–02 to 2002–03 and 2003–04. In 2002–03 we asked them through the statutory planning process, to develop local joined up SEN and disability support/resource strategies, and to build

23 Jul 2002 : Column 996W

networks with local education, social and health support services and other key local agencies. We also asked EYDCPs to provide us with details on planned working groups in 2002–03 involving key local services and to highlight the difficulties in bringing these services together.


Parliamentary Questions

Mrs. May: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick- upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission when he will answer the questions from the hon. Member for Maidenhead of 11 March (a) on the electoral systems used for elections to (i) the office of London Mayor, (ii) the Greater London Assembly, (iii) the Scottish Parliament and (iv) the Welsh Assembly, (b) on the closed list electoral system for the European Parliament, (c) concerning the electoral system used for electing the House, (d) concerning electoral systems that may be used for electing the elected element of a reformed second chamber in Parliament and (e) concerning electoral systems used for electing directly- elected mayors in England and Wales. [71490]

Mr. Beith: I have already written to apologise to the hon. Member for the delay in replying to her questions of 11 March. At the time she asked similar questions of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. I regret that her separate questions to the Speaker's Committee were not noticed. Each of her questions sought information on the plans of the Electoral Commission for work in the areas listed. This answer deals with all five of them.

I understand that the Electoral Commission has no plans to carry out any reviews of existing or proposed electoral systems in the UK. However, the Commission will, in accordance with its statutory duties, report on the administration of elections to the European, United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments, and elections to the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. No such duty exists in relation to other elections mentioned, although the Commission is required to keep under review, and from time-to-time submit reports to the Secretary of State on, a range of elections and referendums including local elections in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It is expected that these statutory election reports from the Electoral Commission will examine a wide range of issues linked to the administration and conduct of the election in question, including levels of voter participation and public understanding of the voting system. However, the Commission has taken the view that it would not be appropriate for it to adopt any policy view in relation to the merits of current or alternative systems of voting while there is a prospect of the Government asking the Commission to conduct a referendum on the use of a form or proportional representation for voting in elections to the House of Commons.

Next Section Index Home Page