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Redbridge families not taking up free childcare offer

PUBLISHED: 16:36 15 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:36 15 November 2017

Children at the Goodmayes Methodist church nursery. Picture: Ken Mears

Children at the Goodmayes Methodist church nursery. Picture: Ken Mears

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Families are not taking up free childcare places for two-year-olds in Redbridge.

Staff Sharon Seabrook, June Tabersham and Khudija Mahmood with children at the Goodmayes Methodist church nursery. Picture: Ken Mears. Staff Sharon Seabrook, June Tabersham and Khudija Mahmood with children at the Goodmayes Methodist church nursery. Picture: Ken Mears.

Figures released by the Department of Education show that out of an estimated 1,400 eligible families in the borough only around 800 children access early learning places.

Goodmayes Kindergarten wants to encourage families to take up the offer.

The childcare service which operates from Goodmayes Methodist Church Hall, Percy Road, said these children are missing out on a valuable opportunity to interact with others.

“If your child is eligible, they can get 15 hours a week of playing, painting, reading, cooking, climbing, singing, dancing, dressing up, running around, gardening - whatever they like doing,” said Manager Jean Tabersham.

“But most of all, your child is learning with other children.

“Early education benefits children’s social and mental development while also helping them prepare for school.”

The nursey said some eligible families are unaware that they could get help and are missing out on an opportunity.

“Evidence shows that regular, good quality early education has lasting benefits for all children,” added Jean.

“That’s also 15 hours of a week for you to have a break, get stuff done at home, study or look for work.

“We have free places available for two-year-olds and would be happy to hear from any parents wanting more information. We have been established over 30 years and Ofsted rated us as a good nursery on our last inspection.”

The nursery said more publicity is needed about the free places but a spokesman for Redbridge Council said it has “strategies” in place to ensure eligible parents are aware.

They write to every family meeting the criteria and give information to children centres and family information services.

“The Department for Education provides funding based on the local take up and not on the number of eligible families, therefore there is not a ring-fenced budget,” a council spokeswoman said.

“Currently there are 818 children accessing their two-year-old early learning place and although the number of parents aware of this funding has increased this has not transferred into a take up of place.

“As of September 2017, Department for Education estimates that there are 1,399 Redbridge families eligible.

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