October 19, 2010 12:14 PM
Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg made the announcement on Friday

Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg made the announcement on Friday

Local MP and former Leader of Stockport Council Mark Hunter has welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's announcement that an extra £7bn will be invested in helping the country's poorest children. Mr Hunter said that the investment will be carefully targeted to ensure all children have a positive start in life.

The "fairness premium" will come in three parts:

First, all disadvantaged two year-olds will have an entitlement to 15 hours a week of pre-school education, in addition to the 15 hours already available to them at three and four years of age. By offering more help at an earlier age to the most disadvantaged children, the Government will directly tackle the gaps in attainment that open up in the critical early years of life. This additional early years investment will amount to £300 million a year by 2014-15.

Second, a Pupil Premium to help poorer pupils wherever they live in the country. Schools will receive additional funds to offer targeted help to every pupil eligible for free school meals and reduce educational inequalities. By the end of the Spending Review period, this pupil premium will grow to an additional £2.5 billion of investment each year.

Third, the Government will support bright but poor children grow up believing that a university education is not out of reach, and are looking now at what can be done to remove the obstacles to aspiration that hold back bright boys and girls from deprived backgrounds.

Alongside reforms to Higher Education, a form of "student premium" has been proposed for the least advantaged students, representing a commitment of at least £150 million a year by the end of the spending review period.

Commenting, Mark said:

"The pupil premium is a great concept, and once introduced will target funds at those who most need them. There is no more important investment than ensuring all children have access to good quality education right from the start.

"It is absolutely right and proper that children from poorer backgrounds have an equal opportunity in life, and that is the precise aim of this new measure. All children deserve the best start in life, and good quality education is crucial to providing the best opportunities for future success.

"A pupil premium was one of the four key pledges in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto at the General Election, and I am absolutely delighted that it is now being implemented."

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