Two year-olds to get free childcare places

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Free education and childcare places will be offered to two year-olds in Derbyshire as part of a pilot project.

Derbyshire County Council has been awarded almost £400,000 to improve language and communication skills and boost attainment.

It is hoped 150 children from Creswell, Langwith and Cotmanhay will benefit from up to nine hours of free education and childcare a week.

These areas have been chosen as children have lower-than-average attainment levels when they enter primary school.

Cllr Barry Lewis, the county council’s cabinet member for young people, said: “We have been chosen as a trial area to expand the number of places available to children from poorer areas.

“We focused on these areas as they are some of the county’s most deprived areas where almost 40per cent of children under five live in households where the adults do not work.

“We hope this project, which also includes children in our care and traveller families, will improve their language and communication skills and in turn their chances of doing well in the future.”

Cllr Lewis added: “We recognise that the involvement of parents contributes greatly to a child’s development so we will also be running training courses for parents to be able to support their children’s learning.”

The pilot project will be rolled out in Derbyshire during 2011/12 with other local authorities following suit by 2013.