Headlines: February 23rd, 2000

Research findings published by the Department for Education and Employment show that pilot Early Learning Excellence Centres, providing integrated care and education for children in their early years, are benefiting families and taxpayers.The research, which was carried out by Worcester College found that for every one pound invested in Centres, eight pounds were saved on alternative services such as foster care and counselling. The findings also show that early intervention for children with special needs leads to a greater likelihood of a child being successfully educated in mainstream schools. This produces an additional saving because mainstream education costs 7000 pounds less per child than special school education.

The eight pilot Early Learning Excellence Centres were formed by integrating nursery schools with day nurseries. They provide an extended hours service which enables parents to follow full time employment. The Centres function for 70% longer than before and to offer a greater range of services for the same cost. The success of the pilots is likely to lead to a large scale roll out of the scheme.