Government must rethink nursery school funding proposals, say early years stakeholders

Date: 11.11.16
Joint union letter to Education Secretary Justine Greening

 


11 November 2016

News release

Government must rethink nursery school funding proposals, say early years stakeholders

Today (Friday 11 November 2016) key stakeholders in nursery school education have written an open letter to education secretary Justine Greening calling on the government to think again about planned cuts to nursery school funding.

As part of plans to reform the early years funding formula, the government’s proposals will see funding to maintained nursery schools cut after two years. A range of organisations, including charities, unions, politicians and stakeholder groups, have come together to express their concerns, which threaten the survival of over 400 nursery schools.

The letter warns that “by just setting out funding plans for two years, nursery schools cannot plan long term and deliver the stability that parents and employees need.” It goes on to explain the importance of nursery schools, including that 65 per cent of places are located in the 30 most deprived areas of the country. The letter states that such settings, led by a head teacher, “have graduate level staff and professional early years practitioners who deliver high quality, focused early years education” and that “nursery schools provide an efficient and cost-effective way to improve social mobility.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says:

“The government has ignored the fact that early years settings come in all shapes and sizes and some have legitimately higher costs than others. Nursery schools achieve their fantastic results by employing more highly qualified staff. The government must rethink its early years funding plans to ensure nursery schools are not forced to close.”

James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, says:

“Without adequate funding, 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. It’s time for the government to work with the profession on a funding system that recognises the high quality early years education provided by nursery schools.”

Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education says:

“The government has given positive indications that it recognises the vital role of maintained nursery schools in system leadership and supporting the most vulnerable children, including the two years of supplementary funding promised for the first two years of the new funding formula.  What is now vital is that government makes sure all maintained nursery schools can cover the core costs of employing qualified teachers and a specialist headteacher, not just in the short-term, but on a long-term, sustainable basis.  If it gets this right, it will be a huge boost for the delivery of multiple government agendas including improved social mobility and inclusion for many years to come.”

Lucy Powell MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes, says:

"Maintained nursery schools play a critical role narrowing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, working to raise the quality of early education and care and supporting some of the most vulnerable families to succeed. They should not become the fall guys because ministers cannot make their childcare pledge add up. We need adequate funding for all settings but we must protect these centres of excellence and put them on a long term sustainable footing which recognises their importance."

Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice, says:

“Funding is an issue across the sector. The government needs to recognise that the infrastructure costs of nursery schools are often greater than other settings, and therefore they need to be funded appropriately for the extended hours offer to work.

"It must also be recognised that quality costs. Children benefit enormously from high quality provision delivered by well trained and motivated professionals. Nursery schools and other settings cannot recruit and, perhaps even more crucially, retain the staff they need without the necessary funding to employ and develop them. It is time for increased and substantial investment in the nursery sector.”

Dave Prentis, general secretary, UNISON, says:

"Nursery schools make a real difference to children who haven't had the best start in life. But quality doesn't come cheap and the government needs to recognise this."

 


 

Letter to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education  

Dear Justine

Future of nursery schools

We are writing to you regarding the future of nursery schools, and the impact of the government’s proposed changes to the early years funding formula.

The government has set out a number of important changes to early years funding, and we welcome the proposals to increase funding and to extend the provision of free early education and childcare provision to 30 hours a week.

However, plans to cut funding to nursery schools in two years’ time are incredibly concerning for head teachers running those settings, for parents and children who rely on them, and for early years practitioners working in them. By just setting out funding plans for two years, nursery schools cannot plan long term and deliver the stability that parents and employees need.

We know that nursery schools deliver high quality early years education for children. Indeed, 100 per cent of nursery schools are now rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. We know that such schools deliver crucial support to some of the most disadvantaged pupils; 65 per cent of nursery school places are located in the 30 most deprived areas of the country.  

Led by a head teacher, such settings have graduate level staff and professional early years practitioners who deliver high quality, focused early years education. They are required to meet the standards and regulations for schools as well as for early years provision. Nursery schools provide valuable training placements and CPD, boosting skills in the early years sector as a whole.

Nursery schools provide an efficient and cost-effective way to improve social mobility and to tackle the educational disadvantages many young children face. In your party conference speech in October you spoke passionately about improving social mobility, as both a moral objective of the government’s, and as an essential part of making Britain economically successful. We agree. But the best way to do this is to invest in early years education, not to take money away from the highest quality part of the system.

We know that maintained nursery schools have higher fixed costs than other settings but their value is such that instead of closing nursery schools, we should be investing in them.

We ask you to think again about the proposals. Nursery schools require adequate, long term funding in order to continue to deliver the high standard of education children need. We know nursery schools work. It is time to invest in them.

Yours sincerely   

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary, ATL

James Bowen, director, NAHT Edge

Russell Hobby, general secretary, NAHT

Deborah Lawson, general secretary, Voice

Melian Mansfield, chair, Early Childhood Forum

Beatrice Merrick, chief executive, Early Education

Lucy Powell MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes

Dave Prentis, general secretary, UNISON

Tim Roache, general secretary, GMB

 


Further information (Voice)

Early years funding

National Funding formula

Comment on the Voice Blog


 

Contacts:

Voice Press Office
Email: pressoffice@voicetheunion.org.uk

General Secretary Deborah Lawson
Email: deborahlawson@voicetheunion.org.uk

Tel: 01332 372337