A GOVERNMENT minister met with the headteacher of one of Bolton’s top schools when she visited the region as part of her campaign to champion longer opening hours for nursery care.

Minister for education and childcare, Elizabeth Truss, spoke to Jack Hatch, headteacher of St Bede Academy in Morris Green about the work St Bede Services was doing to provide “wraparound” care for youngsters.

Mr Hatch said: “The government recognises the importance of providing more early years education for young children which will also double up as child care and allow parents an early return to work or give them the opportunity to start training ready for work.”

St Bede Services operate three large nurseries across Bolton and Wigan and run childcare on seven school sites.

It has formed part of the government pilot for childminding agencies — which the group hopes to launch in September for parents.

The Minister visited St Bede Services’ Little Rainbows nursery in Leigh and Mr Hatch said he welcomed the opportunity to discuss early years education with her policy team.

Mr Hatch said: “The Minister wanted to encourage the school to spread its work further afield and grow its provision to offer more parents quality affordable child care and early years education.

“She certainly gave us lots of food for thought on taking things forward.” Ms Truss visited the nursery to promote the benefits of being open from early morning to 6pm.

She said: “Being open from 8am to 6pm helps support working parents and makes really good use of the school’s resources. This is one of the things that I’m really keen to promote nationally and it’s great to see that this part of the country is a real leader.

“Schools like this are doing it and are making it work for children and you can see not only are children learning, it’s also helping parents with their childcare, it is provided at an affordable rate to parents and that’s really fantastic to see.”