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Pre-school entitlement - uptake figures

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The Committee for Education, Sport & Culture has noted that a range of statistics have been quoted recently about the introduction of a universal entitlement to 15 hours of free pre-school education for all three to four year olds in the year before they start school.

The States of Guernsey-funded entitlement began last week on a two-term trial basis and the Committee feels it is important to publish some up to date statistics to ensure the community is fully informed about both the current and previous uptake of pre-school places and also the sign up to the new scheme.

Education Services' checks which children previously attended pre-school when they start school in Reception. In September 2015, 19% (116 out of 610) of children entering Reception in a States-maintained school did not attend pre-school.

In September 2016 12% of children starting in Reception had not attended a pre-school (64 out of 550) before starting school.

Claims that 98 or 99% of children attend pre-school before they start school cannot be borne out by Education's research as outlined above.

Education Services' is delighted with the uptake of the free 15 hours entitlement which started last week. Education's figures show that 31 three to four year olds were not attending pre-school - this is equivalent to just over 5% of the cohort and represents a 6% increase in take up.

'We understand the concerns of the industry with regards to the implementation of the new pre-school entitlement,' said Deputy Paul Le Pelley, President of the Committee for Education, Sport & Culture.

'We have listened to these concerns and will continue to work with industry representatives to ensure we have the very best scheme we can and that it meets the needs of our children and families.

'I am delighted that we have 30 pre-schools currently signed up to be part of scheme which I believe gives parents an excellent choice of provider. In the past few months we have seen two new full day nurseries open and one pre-school changed to a full day nursery at new premises. It is encouraging to see a growth in the industry at this early stage,' said Deputy Le Pelley.

'We will continue working with private providers to review the implementation of the new scheme but feel it must be allowed to operate for the full period of the trial to ensure we get the best data we can about the impact on our children attending, their families and the providers themselves. The Committee has always signalled its intention to review the scheme and that is what we are doing. Any changes will, of course, have to come back to the States for approval.'

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