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Free nursery places for all

The Government will provide free nursery places for every parent of three-year-olds who wants them by 2004. Labour says spending on nursery places increased from pound;1 billion in 1996-97 to pound;1.6 billion in 2000-01, and this would go up again to pound;2 billion in 2003-04.

Voluntary and private nurseries and playgroups are providing 80 per cent of the new places. Under Labour 120,000 more places for three and four-year-olds had been created nationally, the Secretary of State for Education, David Blunket, said. "We aim to provide all children with a firm foundation for success in their later learning - and in life," Mr Blunkett added. "Key to this was the introduction in September of a new Foundation Stage for early years education that will help ensure we are providing consistent, high quality learning experiences across the country. And the introduction of Early Learning Goals is essential in indicating our expectations for children's achievement by the end of the Foundation Stage."

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