This paper explores changes in the pre-school education market in England since the Labour Government came into office in 1997. It focuses in particular on quality, availability and affordability and in so doing explores issues of equity. It will be argued that whilst overall levels of pre-school educational provision have increased, there are still not enough places, costs are too high for some and the quality is variable. In the light of research evidence indicating greater cognitive and social progress in certain types of pre-school provision, it is argued that there is a particular need to improve access to such forms of provision as they can enhance the educational and social outcomes of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. A number of policy changes are proposed in order to enhance the quality, availability and affordability of pre-school education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds
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