Editor's view - A capital idea?

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It's been quite a week - beginning with Nick Clegg's announcement of 100 million of capital funding to help providers offer the free places for disadvantaged two-year-olds and ending with the Nursery World Awards event at the Lancaster London!

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The £100 million has provoked mixed opinions. On the one hand, it is certainly true that starting to take disadvantaged two-year-olds can mean that settings will need to expand or upgrade premises, change their environment to suit the needs of this group, and provide different resources.

The idea that new providers might use the grant to open a business and take in what can be a very challenging group seems very misguided, however. This is not a job for the novice nursery or childminder.

And, as many in the early years sector have pointed out, on our LinkedIn group and elsewhere, 'shiny new buildings' are not the most important thing here. These very young children and their families need very high-quality provision, with highly-trained practitioners. This costs a lot of money.

While the rates so far for the two-year-olds places may seem better than those for threeand four-year-olds, which have long been under-funded, we are likely to end up in a similar position once the true costs of time and expertise have been taken into account.

And it appears that local authorities may have the funding for threeand four-year-olds effectively cut back as part of the Early Intervention Grant as some money moves into the Dedicated Schools Grant for the twos (see News, pages 4-5).

The Government must address all this if this programme is to make a real difference and be sustainable.

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