Free childcare for three and four year olds in Bolton is to receive a boost thanks to government funding.
The Department for Education has announced that four schemes in the borough will benefit from a total of £232,243 of capital funding to expand their free childcare offer to working parents.
Currently, all families with children aged three and four years old can access 15 hours a week of free childcare.
However, from September 2017 children of working parents will be entitled to 30 hours per week and this funding will support providers to increase the number of places they have available.
The four providers set to benefit are Heaton House and Croft House, which are private nurseries, and St Joseph’s RC Primary School and St James’s CE Primary School, Daisy Hill, which will be providing nursery places for the first time as a result of the funding.
All establishments have been rated as either good or outstanding by Ofsted and as part of the bid had to also contribute some funding.
Together with their contribution, the total investment into early years’ provision will be £416,384, which will go towards expanding or refurbishing existing accommodation.
All schemes must be up and running by September.
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Schools, Safeguarding and Looked After Children, Cllr Ann Cunliffe, said: “This is a significant investment into childcare in the borough which will go towards meeting current demand for three and four year olds. We want to encourage as many parents as possible back into work and enable their young children to start school equipped with the relevant skills, and this scheme will enable them to access high quality, affordable childcare.”
The DfE Early Years capital bidding round was launched in June 2016 with £40 million as a way of supporting providers in delivering 30-hour free childcare on a sustainable basis.
Local authorities were invited to submit bids for up to four or six projects depending on certain criteria.
Bolton Council invited bids from local providers and all four applications were approved.
Catherine Watkin, Headteacher at St James Daisy Hill CE Primary School, said: “The Governing Board is delighted that the school has the opportunity to expand and further develop the educational provision at St James, Daisy Hill, by offering high quality nursery education. This will ensure that all children are given the very best start to their education and achieve even better outcomes from a very early age.
“The provision that the school will be offering within the community will also help to support working parents and will entail both full time and part time nursery education places for children from the age of two.”
Headteacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Nicola Rabbett, said: “We’re extremely pleased and excited at the prospect of being able to create a nursery at St Josephs, as this will be a new venture for us. It can be difficult for working parents to find suitable and affordable childcare, so we’re looking forward to being able to support them by creating an extra classroom to accommodate nursery provision.
“Furthermore, we’re also hoping to redevelop our outdoor early years’ area to provide for our new nursery pupils and further enhance outdoor learning for all pupils in our early years foundation stage.”
Janet Lomax, owner of Croft House Nursery, said: “We were absolutely thrilled to discover that our bid for capital funding to provide additional places for three and four year olds was successful. This will enable us to bring forward our long-term expansion plans so that we are ready to welcome a significant number of children accessing the 30 hours childcare offer from this September onwards.”
Lauren Hyde, Early Years Manager of Heaton House Nursery said: “We’re delighted to have our application approved and look forward to expanding the nursery. We have a waiting list for three and four year old places and converting some of our accommodation on our site will enable us to meet the demand of our current and new families in the local area.”
In announcing the successful bids, the DfE has released a further £10 million of funding due to the popularity of the programme.