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Parents and educators rally to save nursery schools

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Thursday, 8 July, 2021

Today (Thursday 8th July 2021), parents, school leaders, teachers and advocates for the early years sector will come together in an online public rally calling for the government to commit to investing in early years education and maintained nursery schools.

Maintained nursery schools play a vitally important role in early years and in our education system as a whole. They offer the highest quality early education and care, and disproportionately support children from deprived backgrounds and those with SEND. They are also system leaders supporting teacher training and helping neighbouring early years provision to improve.

In 2017 a new early years funding settlement left maintained nursery schools under threat with their future funding uncertain. Since then, the government has recognised their importance and has repeatedly pledged to find a long-term funding solution, while protecting their funding in the interim. But no long-term solution has yet been announced, and this has left maintained nursery schools in limbo, unable to plan, and uncertain for their future.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Maintained nursery schools have been left in limbo for four years, under threat of closure. As we head towards the comprehensive spending review it is critical, now more than ever, that the Chancellor delivers once and for all for the sector.”

Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education, said: “Maintained nursery schools have seen their funding fall in real terms since 2016-17.  There has been no inflationary increase to the supplementary funding, and uncertainty from year to year and term to term as to what funding they may receive in future. Their potential to support vulnerable children and families through the post-pandemic recovery is being jeopardised by government failure to put in place a viable funding system.”

UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said: “Maintained nursery schools play a vital role in supporting young children with complex and special educational needs. Nurseries need a long-term funding settlement urgently to ensure they've enough staff to meet children’s needs. No child should be left behind because of budget cuts.”

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of NEU, said: “Maintained nursery schools provide the highest quality education and care to children in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England. After four years of funding uncertainty and bearing the brunt of additional COVID costs, many schools have been forced to cut staff and some are on the brink of closure. The Chancellor and the Treasury need to act now and ensure the long promised, long-term funding settlement for MNS is included in the Comprehensive Spending Review this autumn.”

Notes to editors: 

Early Education (The British Association for Early Childhood Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through publications, training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit www.early-education.org.uk