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The education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss has suggested that parents who use childminder agencies will have to pay a fee.

The Schools minister David Laws has announced a raft of new measures to help schools further narrow the unacceptable gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

According to a House of Commons select committee, more than 60 per cent of schools have had to reduce their playground space to provide extra places.

More than a third of nurseries in England that are not currently involved in offering funded places for two-year-olds say that they are unlikely or unsure about getting involved in the future.

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

While the Chancellor confirmed that the schools budget will remain protected under the Spending Review, worries have been raised about what it will mean for the early years sector.

Some providers fear that the existing levels of funding they receive through local authorities for the two-year-old entitlement will reduce when the programme expands beyond 2014.

Busy Bees Benefits has launched a second nationwide 'Mind the Gap - Raise the Cap' campaign to ensure the Government's proposed Tax-Free Childcare Scheme reflects childcare costs.

A total of 2m will be available through a new scheme in the run-up to the Early Years Educator qualification.

The Free Time Consortium, a collective of local voluntary play organisations, has been awarded a grant of 900,000 to support local play projects.