Lancashire is among the best places in the UK for good quality free early education for under-fives.
The latest results from the Department for Education show that more two, three, and four-year-old children in Lancashire benefit from this provision than in other parts of the country.
In Lancashire, 98% of three and four-year-olds receive free early education places, compared to the latest national average of 95%.
The figures show that 69% of two-year-olds take up a place, compared to 68% nationally.
Ofsted also praised the quality of early education. Statistics show that 91% of three and four-year-old children benefit from Good or Outstanding provision in private, voluntary and independent settings, such as a nurseries, in Lancashire. Nationally, 86% are rated good or outstanding.
The same Ofsted statistics show that 90% of two-year-old children benefit from Good or Outstanding provision in private, voluntary and independent settings in Lancashire. Nationally the figure is 83%.
County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “I’d like to recognise the achievements of all our providers of free early education in Lancashire.
“Their hard work and dedication has raised the quality of our provision to a new high, which is reflected in the large numbers of families taking it up.
“To outstrip both the national average in terms of quality and take-up is a remarkable achievement.
“I’m really proud of these results. They are testament to the excellent partnership working between providers and the county council’s Early Education Improvement team.
“It’s great that the overall standard of childcare in Lancashire is up there with the best in the country, but we certainly won’t rest on our laurels and will strive to improve our performance even further.
“Take up of places has been rising for the last five years, along with the quality of those places.
“Early education helps children develop in so many ways and gives parents a helping hand too.”
The county council’s Early Education Improvement team supports and advises new and established childcare providers across the county.