Labour has said it’ll create thousands of new nursery places for under fives within primary schools if the party comes into power. The party plans to make improved childcare a key pledge ahead of a general election in May 2024.

Funding for the plans is said to be “high up the list of priorities”. The party says it wants to create a “modernised childcare system” which would be available from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school.

It would mean infants would get continuity from nursery to primary school, if the two are integrated. Labour has commissioned Sir David Bell, former chief inspector of Ofsted, to look at how it can drive up standards in childcare in England.

He’ll be looking at how to design and deliver better early education and advising Labour on how it does that, the Mirror reports.The party will then set out more detailed plans nearer the election, including what it believes they will cost and how it will fund them. The scheme is expected to encourage councils to set up their own nursery provision in existing primary school buildings, the Times reported.

Labour this year pledged to move away from the Tories “broken” childcare model rather than “tinkering” around the edges by expanding free hours, the party’s education chief said. Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson blasted the Government for “failing families” with a chaotic childcare offer that prices parents out of the workplace.

Data from Ofsted reveals that the number of registered childcare providers in England fell by 20,000 from 2015 to 2022, while the number of childminders also fell. There is variation across the country, with parts of Sunderland, for example, having just 12 childcare places per 100 children under the age of five, a 16% decrease since 2018. In Doncaster, where there are 18 places per 100 children, there has been a 25% drop in places since 2018.

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