Around 10 per cent of maintained nursery schools are under imminent threat of closure and 67% may not be sustainable after 2019 without supplementary funding, according to a survey of the All Party Parliamentary Group [APPG] on Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes.
The survey of 301 of the 402 maintained nursery schools [MNS] found that 45 nursery schools are under imminent threat of closure.
The APPG says MNS are facing “a perfect storm of funding pressures”, with some local authorities not able to maintain funding despite current levels of supplementary funding; some metropolitan areas facing the loss of full-time places previously funded for the most disadvantaged children or for children deferring entry to reception due to special needs or developmental issues; some nursery schools facing cuts to their children’s centre budgets; and many concerned about loss of cross-subsidy from daycare income. On the latter point, an APPG briefing says all nurseries rely on funding from daycare provision paid for by parents to subsidise their government-funded provision. If the 30-hour rate is significantly below the current rates charged, it states that MNS may not be able to make up the shortfall, meaning they may be forced to close.
The concerns about MNS’ future come despite recent positive moves by the Government on funding. It has identified £56m in additional nursery school funding for the next three years and has promised to consult on a longer-term solution to funding.
At a meeting last week, the APPG says childcare minister Caroline Dinenage said she would investigate further how the challenges facing maintained nursery schools could be overcome and look at how the government’s intention that the £56 million supplementary funding would provide stability until a longer-term settlement could be worked out.
The APPG says MPs from all parties supported the importance of providing a viable funding solution to enable maintained nursery schools to continue to drive social mobility, support the most disadvantaged children, and children with special educational needs and to act as system leaders driving quality across the early years.