Continued extra funding for maintained nursery schools has been announced by the Department for Education today, with campaigners expressing relief over the "reassuring" announcement.
Supplementary funding will continue to protect maintained nursery schools in 2020-21, supporting children in deprived areas.
An increase in funding for childcare and early education of £3.6 billion in total will "see a handful of areas that have historically received higher levels of funding having their current funding rates for three and four-year-olds protected in 2020-21," according to the DfE.
"In recognition of the need for certainty about the 2020-21 financial year in maintained nursery schools, we have today announced the continuation of the additional funding which will be provided to local authorities to enable them to fund maintained nursery schools at higher rates.
"This forms part of the government’s drive to ensure children have the best start in life through access to high-quality early education and wider aims to support parents in creating a learning environment at home, through the Hungry Little Minds campaign."
The announcement follows a major campaign to secure the future of England's 397 maintained nurseries after their supplementary funding was due to end in March 2020, with some campaigners fearing nurseries were under threat over the long term.
The charity Early Education, the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), as well as an all-party parliamentary group chaired by Labour MP Lucy Powell, were all involved in leading the campaign.
Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education, said she was "delighted" by the announcement.
"Obviously in the current climate it's been hard to progress smaller issues with politicians focused on Brexit," she said.
"So to have this commitment is very reassuring. In reality we know ministers have been doing everything they can but nursery schools have felt very close to the cliff edge.
"Maintained nurseries support some of the most vulnerable children in the country – the idea of those services being cut or lost was an enormous worry.
"They'll still have very tight budgets but at least they'll have that viable certainty."