On March 11, nursery school head teachers will march to Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Chancellor setting the out the important work we do and asking him to secure the future funding of our nursery schools.
We are calling on head teachers and heads of governors from all of England’s 392 maintained nursery schools to join in signing this letter. If you would like to be included as a signatory, please fill in your details below.
Be part of the lobby and march on March 11 from 3pm (lobby in Parliament) and 4.30pm (march to Downing Street) – let us know if you are coming by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
11th March 2019
We write to you as the head teachers, and heads of governors, of all 392 of England’s maintained nursery schools.
The schools that we lead are some of the highest quality institutions in our education system, with 63 per-cent graded outstanding by Ofsted, and 35 per-cent good. Our schools serve two, three and four-year-old children and their families all over England, with a large number of our pupils coming from the most deprived parts of the communities we work with. We have twice the proportion of pupils with a special educational need or disability than other early years provision, and we support many families in and around the edges of the care system struggling with multiple disadvantage. We also work as teaching schools, in many cases, supporting future talent in the teaching profession and helping neighbouring early years provision to improve.
Our schools have been described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of our education system. The work that we do is transformational, but increasingly it is also under threat. We were thrilled when this government acknowledged that, as Maintained Nursery Schools, we deliver unique, effective provision for our most vulnerable children and families and recognised the quality of education provided and the work we do to narrow the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.
We appreciated government’s recognition that maintained nursery schools need to be funded differently from other early years provision, and its decision to provide supplementary funding of £60million from 2017-18 to 2019-20. We are also grateful for the £24 million which has just been announced to cover the summer term of 2020 in recognition of the need to make admissions decisions before long term decisions about our funding can be made as part of the Spending Review.
However, the long-term survival of maintained nursery schools still hangs by a thread. The fact remains that, even with the supplementary funding, most Maintained Nursery Schools have had to make large cuts and make hard decisions to balance reduced budgets. Exceptional, highly trained, early years staff have been lost to the system through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future. As headteachers and governors we are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools. We are making decisions that could be detrimental to the future of our schools because we have no clear decision from the government about our funding. We need your support again. We need stability to continue the life-changing work we do.
There is a real possibility that our schools will close. This would be a disaster for the communities we represent, pulling the rug from under the children and families we support, as well as the aim and objectives of Ministers to tackle the ‘burning injustices’ facing our country.
That’s why we’ve come together, with one voice, to march on Downing Street. As you work towards the Spending Review on the future of public services, we ask you to take a moment and consider what our loss would mean to some of the most vulnerable in society. We also urge you to realise that cuts to nursery schools will simply shift the pressure onto other public services – SEND provision, health and social care and a wide range of other services will be left to pick up the pieces if we close. A recent report from seven nursery schools in North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Humberside found that the savings to other services were at least £1.2 million per year – more than the supplementary funding they received. Please protect our schools now, and long into the future so that we can focus on supporting our children, rather than despairing about finding further savings in budgets already devoid of slack.
We call on you to act to safeguard the future of our schools, with a strong, sustainable, ambitious settlement in the Spending Review when that comes.
Our schools help families to grow, and we nurture and develop the children we support. There will be a terrible cost to our social fabric, and the wider education and care system if our schools cease to exist.
First published 26 February 2019