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This is statutory guidance from the Department for Education for English local authorities on their duties under sections 6, 7 and 11 of the Childcare Act 2006.
It is effective from 1 September 2012 and replaces the Code of Practice for Local Authorities on Delivery of Free Early Years Provision for Three- and Four-Year-Olds (September 2010) and Securing Sufficient Childcare – Statutory guidance for local authorities in carrying out their childcare sufficiency duties (2010).
Section 6 places a duty on English local authorities to secure sufficient childcare for working parents.
Section 7 places a duty on English local authorities to secure free early years provision. Regulations made under section 7 set out the type and amount of free provision and the age of children to benefit. This guidance refers to ‘early years provision’ as ‘early education’ or the ‘free entitlement to early education’.
Section 11 places a duty on English local authorities to assess childcare provision. Regulations made under section 11 set out how the assessment must be prepared and published.
Local authorities must have regard to this guidance when seeking to discharge their duties under sections 6, 7 and 11 of the Childcare Act 2006 and should not depart from it unless they have good reason to do so.
The guidance seeks to assist local authorities, providers and parents by making it clear:
This guidance does not prescribe matters which are rightly for local determination; local authorities must work with providers to plan and manage local provision to meet the needs of families and children in their area. Local authorities should not intervene in providers’ private business outside of the free entitlement. This document does not provide guidance on how providers operate their private businesses, including charges for provision over and above the free entitlement.
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