Education chiefs in Hartlepool have received Government praise for leading the way on early learning.
The town’s proportion of two-year-old children taking advantage of funded learning is higher than anywhere else in the country.
Your sustained efforts are helping to ensure that have the very best start in lifeSam Gyimah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary
Since 2009, all local authorities have been encouraged to provide 570 hours of learning per year for eligible two-year-olds either in schools, private nurseries or with child minders.
A Government official has written to Hartlepool Borough Council’s chief executive Gill Alexander to congratulate the authority for its delivery of the programme.
It is intended to help prepare children for going to nursery at three.
Hartlepool’s take up was 89%, significantly higher than the national average of 63%.
Sam Gyimah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education, said: “Your on-going dedication continues to raise the standards for children and gives them the crucial support they need to do well at school and beyond.
“I am sure that with your continued commitment, you will succeed in ensuring take-up among the remaining children eligible for this entitlement.
“I encourage you to continue to share good practice with others.
“Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. Your sustained efforts are helping to ensure that have the very best start in life.”
Nine schools, 16 private nurseries and 10 childminders deliver the service across Hartlepool.
Councillor Chris Simmons, chair of the council’s Children’s Services committee, said: “It is so important that every child gets off to the best possible start in their early years and it’s very pleasing to see that Hartlepool is leading the way with the best take-up of all 152 local authorities.
“This is a significant achievement and I would like to congratulate council officers for their efforts and the many providers who have contributed to its success.”