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At the same time that a record number of families are using children's centres, many more are expected to close.

A new Department for Education survey asking parents for their opinions on staff:child ratios has raised concern among the sector that there will be a renewed push for a relaxation.

Cherie Blair is calling for a Government strategy towards universal pre-school childcare with the ultimate aim of childcare for all parents, whatever their background and the age of their children.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to say this week that he believes free schools have too much freedom.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has published two free guides to support early years settings with their Ofsted inspections and the complaints process.

Research interviews began last week with families taking part in one of the largest ever Government-funded studies into early years education.

Education secretary Michael Gove has mooted the possibility that changes to business rate relief and VAT for nurseries could be considered at the same time as plans being looked into for academies and free schools.

A few weeks into the childminder agency pilots, a number of organisations have begun to consult with the early years sector about their proposed models.

Ofsted's new early years inspection framework, which comes into force on 4 November, will focus on safeguarding, safety and teaching.

Local authorities have raised concerns that many of the childminders coming forward to offer funded places for two, three and four year olds are not sufficiently well-qualified to provide high quality early years education.