You can see the photos here and read all about our winners in the special magazine published with this issue of Nursery World.
Our five Nursery of the Year finalists were all, as chief judge Wendy Scott commented, ‘exceptional’ this year. All private nurseries, some in disadvantaged areas or making great efforts to do their best for children from all backgrounds, all offering innovative practice of the highest quality.
But at the same time as we are highlighting these inspiring stories, fears are mounting about the new early years national funding formula and the 30 free hours programme.
You can read in this issue about different concerns throughout the sector. The Pre-school Learning Alliance has uncovered the historic picture across local authorities of underfunding and lack of knowledge about costs; the LSE points out the dangers inherent in introducing the national funding formula and the 30 hours at the same time; nursery school head Michael Pettavel argues that rural areas will be left in an unsustainable situation; disability charities question the level of funding for children with SEND.
As the Government repeatedly says, £6 billion is a lot of money to put into early years. But it still isn’t enough to provide everything, and lots will be funding parents on relatively high incomes to have more free hours, with the disadvantaged likely to lose out.
How much harder is it going to be to provide those award-winning services?