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Change to free nursery hours

15 February 2011

From September 2011 States nursery classes will offer families 20 hours of free nursery education a week during term time – the same amount available in private and voluntary sector nurseries.

The 20 free hours will be available in the morning and parents will be able to buy an extra 5 or 10 hours if they want their child to stay for lunch or the afternoon session. This is already the case in non-States nurseries, where parents pay for any extra hours they need.

Deputy James Reed, Minister for Education, Sport and Culture said “This change reflects the desire to offer parents the same choice whether they are considering private or public sector nursery provision.

“Experts have identified 20 hours as the optimum amount of time for a child to receive educational benefits and research shows that good quality early years education has a positive effect on children, their parents and the community later in life.

“Since the introduction of universal provision, an Early Years Partnership with local nursery providers has been set up to improve standards and inform future developments in this important area. We already have a system that we can be proud of and further work is ongoing.

"This new arrangement will provide equity and choice for parents. The most vulnerable children will still be eligible for 30 hours a week in a States nursery free of charge.” 

The Chief Minister, Senator Terry Le Sueur, said “The Council of Ministers supports the equal provision of nursery education across the public and private sectors. We are determined to meet savings targets while maintaining essential services and ensuring value for money for taxpayers.

“We want to enable all Islanders to reach their potential and it is important that we provide core services for all children while directing extra help to families with the greatest need.”

Dr Cathy Hamer, an independent early years specialist, has been visiting private and public sector nurseries this week to see staff and children at work. She said “I have been impressed by the commitment of Jersey’s States, and of nursery staff, to the wellbeing of young children.

"Jersey’s nursery provision is ahead of the UK. One particular strength is the partnership between the public and private sectors and the creation of the Pre-School Quality Framework, which sets high standards for how nurseries operate. This ensures children have good quality care and learning in their most critical years.”

Jersey’s pre-school education provision is more generous than the UK, where parents receive 15 hours. There is no free nursery education in Guernsey. Jersey’s private sector nurseries have been consulted through the Early Years Childcare Partnership and support the change.

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