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Community Education Government Politics Stormont

22.5 Hours of Funded Pre-School For All Children Announced

All children aged 3-4 should have access to a minimum of 22.5 hours of funded pre-school education per week, Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has said.

The move towards an expanded pre-school provision for all children in Northern Ireland forms part of the ongoing work to develop an Executive Childcare Strategy.

Minister McIlveen said: “I want to make sure that we have the best possible early years provision for every child, which will not only support their education, but also enable parents to work. My Department is developing an Executive Childcare Strategy, which will include a package of measures to provide that vital support.

“Pre-school education is critically important for our children’s development. Ensuring equality through an expanded pre-school provision will undoubtedly improve outcomes for children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. I have therefore instructed my officials to develop a timetable and costed delivery plan to provide a minimum of 22.5 hours of funded pre-school provision for every child in Northern Ireland.

“Initially, this will involve a pilot programme that will facilitate new full-time statutory nursery provision in certain areas. This is an important first step which will inform plans for the standardisation of all pre-school education sessions, including a phased lifting of the current moratorium on the creation of new full-time provision.”

ENDS

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