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Learn at the age of two

"We are passionate about what we do," says Christine Parker, head of Caverstede early-years centre in Peterborough.

Founded as a nursery in 1946, the centre still puts individual learning at the heart of many activities.

All children have a key worker who observes them closely, developing their learning, meeting their needs and working with their family. There is a rich variety of resources and children's progress is celebrated in a record of achievement.

Caverstede has used funding from the Early Excellence programme to support parents, including one-to-one counselling and parents' groups. The school works closely with the community mental health team. "We know families have very stressful times and, if mothers are depressed, this could affect children's emotional well-being," Ms Parker explains.

Caverstede has good links with other professionals to help those with special problems; a paediatrician from a local child development centre is a school governor.

Training is a priority. Nursery nurses are encouraged to do day-release or long-distance learning; some staff are doing Sheffield university's MA in early childhood education.

When Caverstede becomes one of the Government's new children's centres, it will get funds to develop learning for under-threes. "We will look at what local families want," says Ms Parker. "It could be integrated care for younger children or it could be more support for childminders."

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