May 25 2013 Latest news:
File photo dated 13/06/08 of a pupil after a GCSE English exam as the High Court rules today on an unprecedented legal challenge over GCSE exam grades. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday February 13, 2013. An alliance of hundreds of pupils and schools and scores of local councils, as well as teaching unions, are seeking judicial review. They are accusing the AQA and Edexcel exam boards of unfairly pushing up the grade boundaries for English last summer in what amounted to 'illegitimate grade manipulation' and 'a statistical fix' involving exams regulator Ofqual. Both the boards and Ofqual deny acting unfairly or unlawfully. See PA story COURTS GCSE. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Thursday, March 14, 2013
A challenge to create nearly 4,000 early years places by 2015 could be more difficult if providers decide their costs would be too high.
Norfolk County Council has come up with a strategy that will enable it to meet the new government requirement for 40pc of the most disadvantaged two year olds to have access to 15 hours of free early education a week.
The plan includes an awareness-raising campaign among parents to increase take up, driving up the standards of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders so more can cater for younger children, and developing a number of building projects at local authority owned sites to create more spaces.
But, in a report to go before councillors today, officers warn there are still many obstacles to overcome.
Jill Warwick, childcare commissioning manager at the county council, said the cost of providing care for two year olds was higher than for older children due to higher staff-to-children ratios and that was putting off some independent nurseries. “We have private and independent providers opting out because they can charge higher rates to private users and parents,” she said.
Government funding covers £4.85 per hour for the places which the council passes on in its entirety to providers.
But Emmy Byrne, nursery manager and co-director at Chapelfield Children’s Day Nursery in Norwich, said the business would have to give “serious consideration” to whether or not it wanted to be part of the scheme. She said the nursery already found itself out of pocket when providing subsidised spaces for three to five year olds and expected to encounter similar problems with the free two year old places.
“If it was optional, we wouldn’t provide it,” she said.
The Chapelfield nursery is also a prime example of another challenge facing the council. It has no free spaces and had to close its waiting list a year ago.
The children’s services overview and scrutiny report says the majority of providers are already at full capacity and “significant capital investment” will be needed.
Last year the council identified 12 priority areas, including seven in Norwich, where the greatest need for places is likely to be.
Terrorism returned to the streets of London today as two suspected Muslim fanatics butchered a man in broad daylight in the name of “Allah”.
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