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House of Commons Hansard
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School Nursery Classes
01 December 2014
Volume 589
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5. What steps her Department is taking to help more schools offer nursery classes. [906334]

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Nurseries in schools are at the heart of our plans to offer flexible, affordable and high-quality child care. To deliver on that plan, we are removing the red tape that stands in the way of schools offering provision to two-year-olds. We have also invested £100 million in early years child care places, of which a third are being created in schools. We are allowing child minders to offer wrap-around care in schools, and championing calibration between schools and private, voluntary and independent nurseries.

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I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. Keeping a child in the same school when they transition from nursery to primary school is in the best interests of the child and indeed the school. Although I welcome steps to examine moves towards amending admissions codes for the most disadvantaged, may I urge him to keep an open mind about widening this policy right across nursery schools?

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My hon. Friend makes a very good point. In many cases, parents want their children to continue into reception year in the school in which they attended nursery, but that should not come at the expense of parents who, for whatever reason, choose different early years provision for their children. As my hon. Friend mentioned, we are amending the admissions code for the most disadvantaged pupils. Of course I always keep an open mind, and we will keep this matter under review and consider it later.

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One of the best ways of extending nursery provision is to have supportive chairs and boards of governors. Many schools find it very difficult to find governors, and many are paying them. May I ask the Minister what his personal—not his departmental—opinion is on the principle of paying school governors? By the way—interest declared!

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The hon. Gentleman is asking about the payment of governors in the early years sector. As he is aware, the early years sector is very diverse. Child minders and PVI nurseries do not have school governors. Some maintained nurseries do, but they do not have to pay them.

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There will continue to be a shortage of nursery class places until we address the issue of pay for nursery school staff. Top bankers’ pay went up by 7% last year, and that of those working in nursery schools by barely more than 1%. What will the Minister do about that?

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I welcome the hon. Lady to her post, but I do not agree with the numbers she cites. In fact, the pay of nursery staff has gone up, according to independent statistics. More important, most of the provision is in the private sector. The Government cannot prescribe wages for people in the private sector, but we can cut taxes so that people can keep more of what they earn, and that is why we have raised the personal allowance to £10,000.