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MPs to support launch of national campaign to secure long-term funding solution for maintained nursery schools at risk of closure

School leaders, parents, governors, MPs and trade union leaders will meet in Birmingham this Friday (21st June) for the national launch of the campaign to secure long term funding for Maintained Nursery Schools.

The launch will focus on the great work of our maintained nursery schools who are hoping to persuade government to provide a long term and secure funding settlement for them at the next Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn.

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.

This event which will take place at Birmingham City Council House between 10 am and 12 pm on Friday 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.     

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.   

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents the majority of maintained nursery school leaders, said:

“Maintained nursery schools have a critical role to play in the delivery of high-quality early years education, especially for children with special educational needs, but their future has been left uncertain by the government’s new approach to early years funding. Currently maintained nursery schools are funded in a way that recognises their importance. But this additional funding comes to an end in 2020, leaving schools unsure if they will be able to carry on or plan beyond that date.”

Lucy Powell MP, Chair of the APPG Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes said: 

“Nursery schools received welcome respite recently, and I thank the Children’s Minister for his work. However, we now need to see a long term funding guarantee for nursery schools in the Spending Review. Nurseries have had to go cap in hand to the government year after year, demoralising staff, and causing parents worry. These vital institutions need long term sustainability if we’re to shift the dial and eliminate the development gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.”

Jack Dromey MP, Secretary of the APPG Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes said:

“England’s 392 Nursery Schools are the jewels in the crown of early years provision. They give children from disadvantaged backgrounds the best possible start in life and support often struggling parents. The sad truth is many are at risk of closure unless the Governments now guarantees secure and long-term funding. That would be a tragic loss”.

Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education, the Secretariat for the APPG Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes added:

“Maintained nursery schools are grateful for the £24m the Chancellor provided for summer 2020, but a long term funding solution remains urgent.  If it has to wait until the spending review – the timing of which is still uncertain, but seems unlikely to happen before the autumn 2019 – they won’t even know their funding for a full year ahead, which puts them in an impossibly precarious position.  With 64% expecting to be in deficit by that point, we are in real danger of losing some of England’s highest quality early years provision which has a unique role in supporting some of our most disadvantaged children and families.  Government must urgently move forward in finding a long-term funding solution for these schools.”

Press and Media contacts:

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

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

Email: press.office@naht.org.uk