Local MP Jo Swinson is urging the Scottish Government to follow the Coalition Government's lead by delivering free early education to 40% of two years olds.
Last week Liberal Democrat Children and Families Minister Sarah Teather launched a consultation calling for views on which two-year-olds in England should benefit from the second phase of the roll out of free early education. Around 150,000 children will benefit in phase one from September 2013 and in 2014 this will rise to nearly 300,000 – around 40 per cent of two-year-old children in England.
In Scotland looked-after 2 year olds can, from this year, receive 12.5 hours of free pre-school education a week but there is no further entitlement for 2 year olds.
Commenting, Jo Swinson said:
"I welcome the move in England which will see around 40% of 2 year olds receive free early education from September 2014 and I'm urging the Scottish Government to provide the same for families here in the East Dunbartonshire and across Scotland.
"Thanks to the work of Lib Dems in Government we are closing the attainment gap between the poorest and more well-off children in England.
"We need to see the same decisive action taken here in Scotland, to give every child the best start in life."
In the consultation, the Department for Education proposes that in addition to those already eligible, two-year-old children should get free early education if they:
a. are in low income families earning no more than £16,190 each year;
b. have special educational needs or a disability; or
c. have been in care and been adopted.
The Coalition Government set out in May 2012 how it will extend the free early years entitlement to the 20 percent least advantaged two-year-olds. This is based on the criteria for Free School Meals eligibility.