The petition of residents of the UK,
Declares that the Government’s consultation paper (Early Years Funding: changes to funding for 3 and 4 year olds 11 August 2016) outlined proposals that will leave nursery schools financially nonviable, forcing them to close; notes that this funding will not cover basic costs, let alone staffing with qualified teachers; and further notes that state nursery schools have very good outcomes with regard to closing the achievement gap and supporting children with special needs, and that state nursery schools are legally required to employ highly-qualifies teaching staff, who are proven to give young children the best opportunities for academic achievement and enabling social mobility.
The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to urge the Government to recognise the school status of state nursery schools and fund them accordingly.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Official Report, 2 March 2017; Vol. 622, c. 536.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Caroline Dinenage):
Maintained nursery schools make an important contribution to social mobility, particularly in disadvantaged areas. They are also high quality providers, and are more likely to care for children with special educational needs than other types of early years and childcare provider.
We want maintained nursery schools to be sustainable for the long-term, not only to ensure that the quality support they give to disadvantaged areas continues, but also to make the most of the pedagogical expertise and experience that they have for the benefit of the early years system as a whole.
As a result of being constituted as schools, they experience costs that other providers do not. That is why we will provide £55 million a year to local authorities, at least until the end of this Parliament, to enable them to maintain current levels of funding for nursery schools. This will give them stability during wider changes to funding.
Illustrative allocations of this supplementary funding were published in December 2016 alongside the Government’s response to the consultation on an Early Years National Funding Formula. To ensure that local authorities receive the correct amount of supplementary funding to enable them to maintain current levels of funding for nursery schools, in March we will carry out a data assurance exercise with local authorities to ensure that they receive the correct funding. The Government have also written to local authorities to advise them that they should not make decisions about their nursery schools until they have their final supplementary funding allocations.
The provision of this supplementary funding will give the Government time to consult on the future of maintained nursery schools. We are developing this consultation informed by conversations with maintained nursery schools themselves and others with an interest in their role and future. We will publish the consultation in due course.