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Historically the sector has worked hard to embrace flexibility when it comes to offering early learning.

It has been estimated that 65 per cent of the two-year-olds accessing their free entitlement in the future will represent new business.

Local authorities will be funding 130,000 places for the 20 per cent least advantaged two-year-olds in 2013-2014, rising to 260,000 the year after. If providers across the private, voluntary, independent, schools and childminding sectors are to achieve these new targets, we may need to think beyond existing models of delivery, says James Hempsall.

Providing new places for two-year-olds does not always have to involve huge or even any capital investment.

The expansion of the free entitlement for disadvantaged two year-olds will require new solutions to meet demand for places and new relationships between providers. James Hempsall describes how this has been the case in Stockton-on-Tees, where a holistic family approach has focused on providing continuity between a specially created playgroup and the children's centre.

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