11 Mar 2019, Katy Morton
Headteachers representing 251 maintained nursery schools will today lobby their MP before marching on Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Chancellor demanding the Treasury fully fund nursery schools for the long-term.
The letter warns that there is a real possibility nursery schools will close without a long-term funding solution. And without these settings, there will be a ‘terrible costs to social fabric and the wider education system’.
The event has been organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes and school leaders’ union NAHT.
It comes ahead of the Spring Statement on Wednesday, which nursery schools say represents an opportunity for the Chancellor Philip Hammond to signal his intent in committing to funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
In their joint letter to the Chancellor, headteachers and governors thank ministers for the £24 million in additional funds, but warn that unless adequate future funding is guaranteed in the Spending Review, the long-term survival of maintained nursery schools ‘hangs by a thread’.
Last month, the children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi announced an extra £24 million for maintained nursery schools to plan for the 2019/20 school year.
Nursery schools have been receiving an extra £55m a year since 2017 when the early years single funding formula was introduced but this was due to end in March 2019.
In the letter, they go on to say that ‘most maintained nursery schools have had to make large cuts and hard decisions to balance reduced budgets. Exceptional, highly trained, early years staff have been lost to the system through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future.
‘As headteachers and governors, we are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools. This would be a disaster for the communities we represent, pulling the rug from under the children and families we support, as well as the aim and objectives of ministers to tackle the burning injustices facing our country.’
Lucy Powell MP, chair of the APPG for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes, said, ‘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. That’s why I’m proud to march with heads on Downing Street, and support their calls for sustainable future funding.’
Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education, the Secretariat for the APPG, added, ‘If a funding solution has to wait until the spending review – the timing of which is still uncertain, but seems unlikely to happen before the autumn 2019 – nursery schools won’t even know their funding for a full year ahead, which puts them in an impossibly precarious position. With 64 per cent 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.’
Several nursery schools tweeted photos of their banners and posters made with children ahead of the march, including Goodway Nursery School and Allens Croft Nursery School.