Labour will encourage councils to open more maintained nurseries

Early Education welcomes the announcement by Bridget Philipson MP, the Shadow Education Secretary, that Labour intends for an expansion of the maintained nursery sector to be at the heart of its plans to reform the early childhood education and care sector. According to coverage in the Guardian,

Labour’s plan to grow the sector will remove barriers in current legislation that prevent local authorities from establishing new childcare provision, other than where they can demonstrate there is no other provider who could deliver. “We would like to expand this element of the sector but it’s very much ‘direction of travel’ and would not happen overnight,” said one source.

Recent analysis by the Children’s Commissioner showed that already 61% of nursery provision in the most disadvantaged areas is provided by schools, compared to 23% in the most advantaged areas where private sector providers are able to operate profitably.

Early Education’s Chief Executive, Beatrice Merrick, said:

Local councils are currently mandated to provide sufficient early education and childcare places in their area, but have few powers to make this happen. Simplifying the process for opening new maintained nursery schools or other provision may be helpful, but the overwhelming need is for funding that covers the full cost of operating early years provision as councils are not in a position to subsidise it.

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