Education Minister, Liz Truss, is pushing for schools to accept two-year-olds in on-site nurseries.
Mrs Truss wrote to all local authorities in England, asking them to encourage schools to take toddlers to combat the shortage of childcare. The hope is that it will create tens of thousands of spaces across the country and help more mothers to get back into work, reducing the gap between children from different economic backgrounds.
This comes alongside government changes to make it easier for schools to take two-year-olds, making the Ofsted registration process easier for those with primary schools and nurseries on one site. This was previously seen as a barrier for many.
A scheme is already being piloted by 49 schools, where each has been given £10,000 to trial giving care to toddlers. This was introduced to give children from all areas a similar start to their education, reducing existing gaps.
The aim is for the new places to be age-appropriate; there needs to be different activities for younger children. Schools cannot lose sight of the fact that provision for younger children is very different to that required for those over five. It also demands an entirely different level of care to that currently offered by many schools in the form of after-school and breakfast clubs.
Critics are saying, with the cost of childcare rising and putting added pressure on parents financially, this is just a way to offer cheap childcare, rather than an honest attempt to improve the system. It has also been suggested that the initiative will encourage more mothers to prematurely break the early bond they have with their children.
How will the proposals change the childcare industry? Will we see a change in standards?