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The future of nursery schools

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 23 March 2017

The petition of residents of Cambridge,

Declares that nursery schools have very good outcomes with regard to closing the achievement gap as well as supporting children with complex educational or medical needs; further that the petitioners are concerned by the Government’s proposals for early years funding that would mean that local authorities would pass on 95% of early years funding from central government directly to early year providers; further that should the proposals be accepted all nursery schools in Cambridgeshire will find themselves in dire financial difficulties; and further that the proposals would lead to a loss of early years provision as well as job losses for nursery staff.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to drop their proposal that would require local authorities to pass on 95% of early years funding from central government directly to early year providers.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Daniel Zeichner , Official Report, 21 February 2017; Vol. 621, c. 991.]


Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Caroline Dinenage):

The 95% pass-through is good news for all providers including maintained nursery schools. It means that local authorities will have to pass on 95% of their early years funding to providers from 2018-19 (with a transitional arrangement of 93% in 2017-18). This will put an end to the excessive top-slicing of budgets that occurs in some local authorities and will ensure that the record level of Government investment in free childcare will reach providers.

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 their pedagogical expertise and experience for the benefit of the early years system as a whole.

We know that maintained nursery schools typically have higher costs than other providers. That is why we are giving local authorities supplementary funding of £55 million a year for their maintained nursery schools, until at least the end of this Parliament. This is in addition to their early years national funding formula allocations and will enable local authorities to maintain their current funding rates for nursery schools.

In March we will carry out a data assurance exercise with local authorities to ensure that they receive the correct level of supplementary funding to enable them to maintain current levels of funding for nursery schools. 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.

Local authorities will be able to use their funding (both their early years national formula and supplementary funding) to continue to fund nursery schools at their current funding rates.

The Government have also committed to consulting 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.