Nearly 2,000 Sheffield three and four-year-olds to benefit from expanded scheme

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Nearly 2,000 disadvantaged Sheffield children are to benefit from a new Government scheme designed to give them a better start in life.

The Pupil Premium Scheme is to be extended to cover three and four-year-olds, with their schools, nurseries and childminders receiving extra funding of £300 a head.

The initiative will also benefit over 1,000 youngsters in Barnsley and over 900 in Rotherham.

Children from low income families are being targeted and the aim is to stop them from falling behind other youngsters before they have even started school.

The scheme already covers older primary age pupils and is a flagship Liberal Democrat policy designed to reduce attainment gaps between poor and better off children.

Nationally £50 million is being spent to extend the project, with £5.4 million coming to the Yorkshire and Humber region.

It is due to be introduced from next April, building on the original scheme which was launched in 2011.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “It is vital that we intervene at the earliest possible stage and do all we can to help young children develop and learn.

“I’m so proud that we’ve been able to deliver this Early Years Pupil Premium so that toddlers from the poorest families get the support they need, which will pay dividends later in life.

“In my view this will be one of the great legacies of this Government, helping create a fairer society which benefits families.”

Nurseries will have the freedom to decide how to use the premium to help three and four year-olds learn and develop, by for example recruiting more qualified staff or specialists in speech and language to give an extra focus on basic skills.

Schools already receiving the funding will be asked to share their good practice with nurseries.