MONTREAL -- There will be 60 new pre-kindergarten classes for four-year-olds in the English school system starting in September, the Quebec government announced Wednesday.

This will bring the total to 171 English-language pre-kindergarten classes, according to Christopher Skeete, parliamentary assistant to the premier for relations with English-speaking Quebecers.

He notes the hope is to also identify students who have special needs "as early as possible."

"This is great news, not only for parents, but first and foremost, for all the children who will benefit from this service, which is adapted to their age and level of development," Skeete said.

Bill 5, which was tabled in the National Assembly last year, aims to give parents the option to send their four-year-old to school a year early.

"Next September, 350 new pre-kindergarten classes will open in schools across Quebec, bringing the total number to 1,010," confirmed Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge.

However, opposition parties have long argued schools lack both space and teachers to fulfill those substantial requirements.

In addition, Quebec's education minister came under fire last August for claiming, without concrete data, that children who would be enrolled in pre-kindergarten were not already attending some form of daycare.

Critics of the bill have long said that universal pre-kindergarten would take children out of daycares and put them into schools, at more expense to the government -- something the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) has repeatedly denied.

The new classes are expected to be in place for the 2020-2021 academic year. The government’s goal is to make four-year-old pre-kindergarten accessible to all parents within the next five years.