The local authority has the highest number of nursery schools in the country, but remains under pressure due to budget cuts and the impact of austerity measures, which have reduced services for families and young children.
- Read Jack Dromey MP’s exclusive comment piece here
The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) has published a report in partnership with Birmingham’s 27 maintained nursery schools to highlight the hidden value of the work they carry out across the city and urge the Chancellor to make sure money is available to keep them open in the Spending Review later this year.
The report was launched by local MP Jack Dromey and shadow early years minister Tracey Brabin at Castle Vale Nursery School in Birmingham on Friday (24 May).
It includes case studies showing the work that nursery schools are doing for children above what they are funded to do, particularly those with a range of special education needs and disabilities, children who have English as an additional language, where there are child protection plans in place, and for low-income families.
Some examples reveal that families and children arrive at nursery school with even their basic needs for food, clothes, safety and housing being unmet by any other service.
The evidence has been provided by the 27 nursery schools and analysed by CREC, who have included nine detailed case studies of vulnerable children and families to show to make ‘explicit and visible the true and added-value of MNS as a unique and cost-effective public service’.
One nursery school reports, 'N is developmentally behind his peers and has poor social and emotional development, he needs constant reassurance, nurture sessions and guidance from the educational psychologist...the family needs lots of support...N is not adequately dressed and usually hungry so we provide uniform, shoes, coats, breakfast, snacks, lunch and tea.'
The Government has not yet set out what extra funding will be made available after 2019/20, which means that nursery schools across England are under threat from cuts to staffing, reduced services and potential closures.
The report says it ‘sets out a clear case for continued and adequate funding’ for Birmingham’s maintained nursery schools and for all 392 maintained nursery schools nationally.
‘To lose such a wide ranging, cost effective and vitally needed service from our mainstream school system would be a travesty,’ say the authors Professors Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram of CREC.