Nursery places for two-year-olds: a timeline

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Follow the development of the funded programme in Nursery World's headlines



The original two-year-old pilots, introduced by the Labour Government, provided early years education to more than 13,500 two-year-olds in 32 local authorities for 7.5 to 12.5 hours a week. The places were targeted at a range of families in a variety of settings, (all were required to use Birth to Three Matters).

24 September 2008

Early years sector warns Gordon Brown about plans to give all two-year-olds free childcare places

Gordon Brown pledges a free nursery place for every two-year-old over the next ten years.

26 November 2008

Universal free places for two-year-olds scrapped by Government

Just two months later the Government goes back on the plan but insists that its pledge for free childcare for two-year-olds remains. 'We are already rolling this out to 63 local authorities,' a spokesperson commented.

22 January 2009

More free two-year-old places to boost social mobility

Places for two-year-olds will be extended from the pilot areas to 15 per cent of the 20 per cent most disadvantaged families in every local authority, reaching around 23,000 children a year.

May 2010

Coalition Government takes office.

September 2010

Fifteen per cent of the 20 per cent most disadvantaged two-year-olds in England are now entitled to 15 hours of early education a week.

All three- and four-year-olds are now entitled to 15 hours a week of free nursery education.

20 October 2010

Sector responds to free places for poorest two-year-olds

Free part-time nursery places will be offered to the 20 per cent most disadvantaged two-year-olds. Places will be offered to the 20 per cent of families eligible for free school meals.

19 September 2011

More disadvantaged two-year-olds in free early education offer

Thousands more two-year-olds will be offered a place in an early years setting from September 2013. Ministers propose changing the eligibility criteria for disadvantage, to include those with free school meals and looked-after children.

11 November 2011

Consultation on early education funding

Government consultation includes slimming the guidance and plans for eligibility criteria for two-year-olds for families with an income of less than £16,190 a year that are receiving Child Tax Credit.

29 November 2011

Free nursery places for two-year-olds to double

The number of nursery places for two-year-olds will be extended to 40 per cent of children, from 2014-15, Chancellor George Osborne announces in the Autumn Statement.

13 December 2011

Enormous shortfall in two-year-old places predicted

Nursery groups raise concerns that a shortfall in the number of early learning places for twos could hamper Government plans. The Department for Education estimates that there could already be a shortfall of around 40,000 places for the initial roll-out.

20 February 2012

Local authorities leave nurseries out of pocket on two-year-old costs

A survey finds that providers piloting the free places for twos are faced with extra costs not covered by local authority funding.

30 May 2012

Expansion of free early years places for two-year-olds to start in the autumn

Nick Clegg announces 2,000 more two-year-old places from September. Ten more trial areas mean some children will be eligible for places a year earlier than planned. The Government also publishes its response to the consultation on changes to the free entitlement and childcare sufficiency.

11 June 2012

Cool response on two-year-olds' free places

The Pre-School Learning Alliance's survey of more than 1,000 nurseries and pre-schools in England found that only one in eight settings believes they will receive enough funding.

21 June 2012

Multi-million pound two-year-olds contract

Mott MacDonald with Hempsall's is awarded the £4m contract to support the Government's roll-out of childcare places for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

9 July 2012

Consultation on eligibility for free places

The DfE's consultation proposes places should be extended to children with special educational needs, a disability, and in care and adopted children from September 2014.

25 September 2012

£100m for building costs to expand places

Local authorities will share £100m among providers for settings to expand and for new nurseries and childminders to set up businesses. The trials start in ten areas.

27 November 2012

Flat rate of funding for two-year-olds

Local authorities are told they will receive an average of £5.09 per child per hour, and urged to pass the full rate on to providers.

17 December 2012

London faces two-year-old places shortage and funding crisis

London faces a shortfall of 25,000 nursery and childminder places to meet the two-year-old offer for 20 per cent of two-year-olds by September 2013.

7 March 2013

Two-year-old pilot study finds high-quality settings make a difference

Children who attended high-quality settings in a pilot 'performed somewhat better' than children who attended 'low or adequate quality settings'.

17 June 2013

Childcare providers raise concerns over future funding of scheme

Some providers fear the existing levels of funding for two-year-olds will reduce when the programme expands from September 2014.

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