Hitchin nursery gets green light to take two-year-olds

PUBLISHED: 17:53 04 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:55 04 April 2019

York Road Nursery School in Hitchin will be able to take two-year-olds. Picture: Google Street View

York Road Nursery School in Hitchin will be able to take two-year-olds. Picture: Google Street View

Archant

A nursery school in Hitchin has today been give the go-ahead to take children as young as two.

Currently York Road Nursery School offers places to children between the ages of three and five – with each child opting for morning or afternoon sessions.

But a meeting of Herts County Council’s education, libraries and localism cabinet panel agreed that the school could increase its provision to include two-year-olds.

The change will bring the school in line with the majority of maintained nursery schools in the Herts, which already admit children from the term after they’re second birthday.

It’s designed to enable those parents who are entitled to free early years education or childcare for their youngsters to access it.

According to the report to the committee, some families had found it hard to access the places for their two-year-olds locally.

“By lowering the admission age of the school, the county council can ensure that two-year-old children in the community, particularly the most vulnerable, are able to access the free place to which they are entitled,” says the report.

“The take-up of the entitlement for two-year-old children in this locality is lower than the county and the national average.”

According to council data, last term there were 35 parents whose two-year-old children were eligible for a free place, but just 25 accessed them in the area – with just two providers currently offering places.

The planned changes at York Road would earmark 12 existing places for two year olds, who would have their own dedicated space – with one member of staff for every four children.

A public consultation around the plans showed a mixed reaction – with six of the 13 responses in favour, six against and one undecided.

During the consultation there had been some concern about the impact the change would have on traffic.

But councillors were told this shouldn’t be the case, because the number of children wasn’t being increased.

Hitchin county councillor Judi Billing, whose children and grandchildren have attended York Road, said it was a “fantastic place”, but was not convinced there would not be traffic implications as a result.

A number of parents can access free early education or childcare for their two year olds.

These include parents who are eligible because of low income, which includes those claiming Income Support or income based Job Seekers Allowance or some other benefits.

Also eligible are children who are – or who have been – ‘looked after’ by a local authority, have a statement of special educational needs or receive disability living allowance.

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