Northumberland County Council is one of eight local authorities nationally – the Early Implementers – to take part in the pilot scheme to offer eligible families 30 hours of free childcare for three to four-year-olds.
The Minister visited Pumpkin Pie nursery, which is participating in the programme, to meet staff, children and parents to gain a better understanding of how it is working in practice and how this could impact future strategic plans when the programme is rolled out nationally.
Dr Coffey said: “It was fantastic to meet the children and families at Pumpkin Pie Nursery benefiting from the Government’s offer of 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents.
“I commend Pumpkin Pie and Felton Primary School for working together with our offer – helping parents who want to work to do so.”
Coun Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services at the county council, said: “We are delighted to be part of the pilot scheme to offer additional hours of free childcare.
“This visit was a great opportunity for Minister Coffey to see an example of how this scheme is implemented and discuss the benefits and challenges presented along the way, which can go towards helping to shape the development of this scheme on a national level.”
Last Wednesday, the Minister also visited Rimside Woodland, between Rothbury and Alnwick, to see the recently-constructed forest road.