The government has announced that £50 million will be given to nurseries and schools in the form of an early-years pupil premium for disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds.
Prime minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg (pictured) announced the measure today alongside other changes to help parents with childcare costs.
"This [the early years pupil premium] will give our most disadvantaged children better access to early education and improve the quality of provision, which evidence shows can have a major impact on their school readiness," said a joint statement from No 10, the Treasury and the deputy PM's office.
Details of the scheme will be consulted on by the Department for Education shortly.
The move was welcomed by business group the CBI, which recommended such a financial boost in its report First Steps: A New Approach for Our Schools.
“Too many children start school already behind their peers in terms of vocabulary, and have to struggle to catch up. The new Early Years Pupil Premium – which the CBI called for – will help close the gap,” said Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “An Early Years Pupil Premium from 2015/16 for disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds is a great move and will be crucial to changing the fact that childcare is often worse quality in poorer areas.
“This vital injection of funds could really begin to turn round the standard of provision for the most disadvantaged children and an additional £50 million makes an important move in this direction.”
The pupil premium is given to schools in order to raise attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers.
This year it is worth £1,300 for each eligible primary-aged pupil and £935 for each eligible secondary school pupils. There is also a £1,900 premium to support looked-after children and a £500 year 7 catch-up premium for pupils who did not achieve level 4 in reading and /or maths at the end of primary.
The news from the Treasury came alongside a headline-grabbing announcement of a £2,000-a-year tax break for childcare, which is due to come into effect in autumn 2015.