Northumberland County Council’s Early Years Team has received praise from the Department for Education (DfE) for its effective roll-out of free childcare for three and four-year-olds.
The county was one of eight local authorities – the Early Implementers – to take part in the pilot scheme. In Northumberland, it was so successful, almost double the original allocation of families benefited.
As a result, the DfE has asked the team to share its experience and provide support to other councils.
Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We understand the importance of supporting families across Northumberland with free childcare and we are very proud of our success in the rollout of offering 30 hours free childcare.
“The Early Years Team has worked very hard to ensure the pilot and national roll-out are a success and we are delighted that so many families can benefit from this scheme.
“The team has also received further recognition and have been awarded the GeoPlace Exemplar award for their work in developing a digital platform, The Wizard, which is a secure cloud-based application that enables paperless communication for parents and providers and is available nationally for other local authorities to utilise.”
Meanwhile, as previously reported, the council has secured funding to further expand provision, increasing the overall number of places available for 30 hours of free childcare per week. That has started this month.
The additional funding will allow for a total growth in places which will see nearly 9,000 hours of additional free childcare available for families. The areas set to benefit from the investment include Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth and Seahouses.