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The Stop, Listen, Consult petition has been signed by nearly 4,000 people and calls for the Department for Education to reconsider plans in More Great Childcare.

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.

The number of childcare providers has fallen in the last six months, as has the number of places provided by childminders and nurseries.

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.

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

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.

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.

Nearly a third of nurseries and childminders inspected following a complaint have seen their grade drop, according to figures released by Ofsted.

The Department for Education (DfE) is toughening its stance on local authority approaches to funding childminders for free early education places.

A series of new online courses has been developed by the Children's Food Trust, which aim to help early years professionals provide healthy food.