A number of Bradford schools will be teaching two-year-olds from April as part of a Government bid to provide education for disadvantaged toddlers.
A planning application for a new early years section at Fagley Primary School in Falsgrave Avenue has been approved, and will allow the school to start taking on 48 two-year-olds on a part-time basis in a few weeks.
Bradford Council has also granted permission for a nursery extension at High Crags Primary School in Pratt Lane, Shipley, which has been taking on two-year-olds since November in a temporary nursery building.
The places are for pupils whose parents are on income-related benefits and who, according to the Council “are more likely not to have experienced play and learning opportunities outside the home and might fail to achieve their full potential.”
The Government last year introduced the Early Education for Two Year Olds scheme, which allows toddlers free nursery care if their parents are on income support, support under the immigration and asylum act or other benefits. It will come into play in September.
After the Government announcement, it emerged the policy could leave Bradford facing a shortfall of almost 2,500 nursery spaces because of a high number of eligible families.
In response, the Bradford Schools Forum has made £1 million available to the Labour-run Council to help find more school places.
The 111 square metre extension to Fagley Primary School will help combat that shortfall.
Other schools that will be taking on two-year-olds include Farnham and Horton Grange primary schools, which will take a total of 56 toddlers from April.
Councillor Roger L’Amie, the Conservative spokesman for education on Bradford Council, said: “There is evidence that some youngsters don’t arrive at primary school ‘school ready’.
“I think these early years schemes are useful in that they get youngsters socialised and ready for school. It also helps families reduce childcare costs. Child care has got to a stage where it is almost uneconomic for both parents to work.
“Anything that helps the district’s youngsters get off to a good start is a good thing and if it saves people money too then it’s a double victory.”