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Headteachers meet in urgent summit to discuss the future of maintained nursery schools in Lancashire

School leaders, parents, governors, MPs and trade union leaders will meet in Preston today to discuss the future of maintained nursery schools across Lancashire.

The summit welcomes speakers from nursery schools, Early Education, NAHT, NEU and Unison, including a video message from Lucy Powell MP. A lobby outside County Hall will follow.

This event which will take place at Cotton Court Business Centre (The Ainsworth Suite) in Preston between 10 am and 12 pm follows a large demonstration which took place in Westminster in March at which 700 nursery heads, staff and governors marched to Downing Street to deliver a letter to the chancellor, signed by over 250 of England’s 396 nursery heads, setting out their concerns about funding.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Maintained nursery schools need a guarantee that they will have viable funding beyond next year. They are one of the best performing schools in Lancashire and the Council need to step-up their support in ensuring that they remain open for future generations of children in the county. These schools transform lives and have a unique pool of expertise in supporting children with special educational needs.”

Maintained nursery schools are local authority run schools for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds. They are the jewel in the social mobility crown, supporting some of our most disadvantaged children. 64 per-cent of maintained nursery schools are in the 30% most deprived areas of England. They offer the highest quality early education and care in our education system with 63 per-cent graded Outstanding by Ofsted and 35 per-cent good.

Nurseries received a small reprieve earlier this year (28th February) with the Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP announcing £24 million of stop-gap funding to ensure schools could offer places for children for the full 2019/20 academic year. Whilst this funding is welcome, and a testament to the Ministers’ personal commitment to nursery schools there is no guarantee of adequate funding after the next academic year meaning maintained nursery schools could lose nearly a third of funding, £60 million, in the 2020/21 academic year, leaving thousands of children without a specialist nursery place. 

Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education, the Secretariat for the APPG Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes added: “Lancashire has an extraordinary asset in its maintained nursery schools – they support well above average numbers of children with SEND, close the gap for the most disadvantaged children and provide training and support to other early years providers.  We call on the Council to provide every possible support to its nursery schools, and to join us in emphasising to government that a decision on funding can’t wait any longer.  The communities in which these schools are based deserve the certainty of knowing they will be there to support children and families next year, and for many generations to come.”Bottom of Form

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Local-authority maintained nurseries provide an invaluable service to communities. They not only educate our youngest children but also provide many advice services for parents and carers no longer available from their local authorities. The piecemeal approach to their funding by the government is unacceptable and puts at risk the quality and range of care which communities can access. Without sufficient funding nurseries will either have to close or severely cut back what they offer children and families. It is vital Government listens as a matter of urgency and gives our nurseries the funding they desperately need.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363