A further ambitious expansion of services for young children has
been announced by the government.
Chancellor Gordon Brown in his Spending Review announced an
extra £769m to fund 2,500 children’s centres by 2008 –
more than the original offer of a children’s centre in each
of the 20 per cent most deprived wards in the country.
Also, the Children’s Fund is to be extended to 2008, by
which time children’s trusts are expected to be up and
running and providing integrated children’s services.
Children’s social services are to receive “significant
increases in funding” to enable local authorities to play their
part in reforms outlined in Every Child Matters.
Brown also announced a pilot scheme to provide free nursery
places to two year olds. The pilot will run in 500 disadvantaged
areas, and offer part time early education places to 12,000 two
He promised investment in extended and full service schools to
back the Department for Education and Skill’s promise last
week of at least 1,000 primary schools offering “wrap around” child
care between 8am and 6pm by 2008.
In time, every primary school should offer study support
activities and parent support opportunities on the premises,
according to the DfES. The Spending Review promises 240 full
service extended schools by next year, offering health services and
adult education as well as child care.
The growth is to be paid for by massive cuts in the civil
service. As already announced, about one in three posts in the DfES
is to be cut.