Minister visits county to see scheme in action

Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill with councillors, council staff, school staff and nursery staff in Bedlington.
Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill with councillors, council staff, school staff and nursery staff in Bedlington.

Children’s Minister Robert Goodwill has met members of the Early Years team at Northumberland County Council in relation to the provision of 30 hours of free childcare.

The council was one of eight local authorities nationally – the Early Implementers – to take part in the pilot scheme.

The national roll-out of the childcare service for children up to the age of four was launched earlier this year.

Mr Goodwill visited Bedlington West End First School to meet some of the Early Years team.

He also spoke with school and nursery staff to find out their experiences of being involved in the scheme.

He said: “I have heard excellent things about the delivery of 30 hours in Northumberland, so I am delighted to have seen for myself how it’s working and to speak to providers involved with the West Bedlington Early Years Partnership.

“I commend the way Northumberland has worked closely with providers to address the unique challenges it faces.”

Northumberland is also taking the lead in sharing its learning from delivering 30 hours through the Department for Education’s buddying scheme for councils.

Coun Wayne Daley, deputy leader of the county council, and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This fantastic scheme allows us to make sure we give children the best start in life and support parents to work.

“The visit was a great opportunity for the minister to see an example of how this scheme is implemented and discuss its benefits and challenges.”