More needy children to benefit
Merton is get an extra £2.2 million to deliver 15 hours free weekly childcare and nursery schooling for two-year-olds from the most hard-pressed families, following a Government announcement.
It is already ensuring that two-year-olds from the least well-off 20% of families are able to receive free early education from September 2013, which means 501 children in Merton will benefit. This is now to rise to include two-year-olds from the poorest 40% of families by 2014.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has also announced an extra £100m this year for building projects to support 'early years' schooling, for example, converting part of an existing building into extra nursery space. In Merton, that means an extra £418,644 for the Council to spend in this way.
Lib-Dem Councillor Mary-Jane Jeanes said: "It's shameful that today you can predict how a child will do in school based on where they are born. It is clear from the evidence that children from poorer backgrounds often fall behind their wealthier classmates before they even set foot in school. That gap only gets bigger over time.
"Liberal Democrats believe in a fair society where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. That's why Liberal Democrats in Government have prioritised supporting two-year-olds so they can get the best start in life."
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, Conservative spokesman for Education and Children's Care, added: "Every child, whatever their background deserves the best start in life. By investing in high quality childcare in Merton, the Government's not only helping improve the educational opportunities for some of our most vulnerable children but also helping parents on lower incomes get back into work. Even better is the news that from 2014 the number of families benefitting is set to double.
"We will be watching where the money goes carefully. It must reach the front line and not be swallowed up in admin or other costs. Eligible families in the borough must not miss out."
The Government’s annual Ofsted report, released on November 27, ranks Merton among the local authorities where pupils are most likely to attend a good or outstanding outstanding primary school.
The report shows Merton as 21st in the whole of England, with 81% of pupils in the borough attending good or outstanding primary schools.
November 30, 2012