Editor's View - Twos are centre stage on the early years scene

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Two is definitely the magic number in the early years sector at the moment, referring of course to two-year-olds - the free places for the 40 per cent most disadvantaged, the Progress Check and all the challenges of funding, provision and practice.

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An announcement on the funding of the two-year-olds' places is expected imminently. The new Minister for Education and Childcare, Elizabeth Truss, was very keen to flag this up as an indication of the way DfE policy would be moving in our interview.

Ms Truss is promising simplicity and transparency on the rate that providers receive, and in the way that quality will be rewarded. She admits that sorting this out, let alone the free entitlement for three- and four-year-olds, will not be easy.

Indeed, the whole provision of the two-year-olds places will be fraught with difficulty. How can the government ensure enough places in the right areas, properly funded, and of high quality when local authorities are hard-pressed?

At provider level, there are problems to be overcome too. They need to offer the right environment, have sufficient, properly trained staff to cope with sometimes troubled children and families and the other agencies that deal with them - and all without upsetting the balance of their existing service.

Just last week, one weeping mother phoned us to say that her February place for her seven-month-old baby had been withdrawn by the nursery as they had to give preference to the two-year-olds.

The Progress Check is now under way, and is also concerning some childcarers. See our feature from Wokingham local authority explaining how they developed resources to help.

There'll be lots more advice and information on supporting two-year-olds in Nursery World soon.

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