School leaders’ union NAHT and early years education charity Early Education have today (Friday 28 February 2020), written to 100 local authorities in England urging them stop ‘unnecessary’ plans to close the maintained nursery schools under their control.
NAHT and Early Education are asking local authorities ‘not to rush’ into making any decisions regarding the future of maintained nursery schools before the government confirms how future funding will work.
The letter has been sent in response to a number of local authorities recently launching reviews of their nursery schools which could ultimately lead to some being forced to close.
The Department for Education (DfE) has also recently written to local authorities to reiterate the government’s commitment to the long-term funding of maintained nursery schools.
Maintained nursery schools play a vitally important role in our education system. They offer the highest quality early education and care, and disproportionately support children from deprived backgrounds and those with SEND. They also work as teaching schools supporting teacher training and helping neighbouring early years provision to improve.
The government has backed maintained nursery schools by protecting their funding until the end of 2021 but a long-term funding solution has yet to be provided.
In the letter, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says:
“Despite the recent commitment by the government to the long-term future funding of maintained nursery schools, I have been extremely concerned to hear that some local authorities have recently launched reviews which could ultimately lead to the closure some of these schools.
“Whilst I fully understand and appreciate the enormous financial pressure LAs are operating under, I would strongly urge you not to rush into taking any such decisions before we have a clear picture from government regarding how future funding will work.
“We have already seen a reduction in the number of maintained nursery schools across the country due to existing funding pressures, and it would be a travesty if we were to lose any more simply because local authorities are jumping the gun.
“If the government are able to find the right solution, such decisions should be completely unnecessary and could do untold long-term damage. I would ask that all local authorities wait until they have the complete picture before proceeding with any such decisions.”
Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education, said: “The long-awaited funding formula for maintained nursery schools should finally give local authorities the opportunity to embed these centres of excellence into their early years systems to support the most disadvantaged children, those with SEND and children in need, and to provide system leadership and quality improvement support in partnership with local settings and schools. Closing nursery schools now would be short sighted and would mean losing out on vital support through the revised funding formula.”
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