Nurseries Crisis!

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NEW government funding proposals will force nursery schools to close, warns the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Yesterday was the deadline for submissions to the government’s consultation on Early Years Funding and the thirty hours of free childcare offer to working parents and carers.

Analysis by NAHT, shared with the charity Early Education, shows that hundreds of nursery schools across England, which are most often in areas of high social deprivation, will be forced to close if the government doesn’t adjust its proposals.

Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary said: ‘We support the government’s aim to offer more hours of free childcare to families that need that kind of extra help. We also applaud any focus on early years education as the best way to help children make a good start in life.

‘However, the government has ignored the fact that early years settings come in all shapes and sizes and some have legitimately higher costs than others. There are around four hundred nursery schools in England, looking after thousands of children every day.

‘99 per cent of nursery schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. 65 per cent of nursery school places are located in the 30 most deprived areas. Nursery schools achieve their fantastic results by employing more highly qualified staff. As a result, they have higher operating costs. They cannot benefit from either lower staffing costs, as private and voluntary settings do, or lower fixed costs, as some primary schools can.’

Hobby continued: ‘The DfE’s own data shows that any funding approach that does not reflect these costs on an ongoing basis will be a body blow for early years education in nursery schools. There is additional funding available, but only for two years. After that point, England’s nursery schools will cease to be financially viable.

‘The thirty hours offer will be doomed before it even gets started, additional places won’t materialise and current places will be lost as nursery schools across England close their doors for good. The government has the data – it must rethink before thousands of families, many in the poorest areas of the country, are left high and dry.

‘In contrast to grammar schools, high quality nursery education is a proven method of helping the most disadvantaged families. It is inexplicable that a government serious about social mobility would focus on one at the expense of the other.’