Halt 'unnecessary' nursery school closures - campaign

100 local authorities urged to 'avoid untold damage' caused by 'rushed' and 'unnecessary' early years provider closures

Amy Gibbons

Campaign to stop maintained nursery school closures

Local authorities are being urged to stop "unnecessary" plans to close maintained nursery schools, as the sector awaits "a clear picture" on future funding from the government.

School leaders' union NAHT and charity Early Education have today written to 100 LAs in England, asking them "not to rush" into making any decisions regarding the future of nurseries under their control.

NAHT says the letter has been sent in response to a number of local authorities launching reviews of their nursery schools, which could ultimately lead to closures.

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In October last year, the Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that supplementary funding will continue to protect maintained nursery schools in 2020-21.

However, NAHT says "a long-term funding solution has yet to be provided".

In the letter sent to 100 local authorities, Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, wrote: "Despite the recent commitment by the government to the long-term future funding of maintained nursery schools, I have been extremely concerned to hear that some local authorities have recently launched reviews which could ultimately lead to the closure some of these schools.

"While I fully understand and appreciate the enormous financial pressure LAs are operating under, I would strongly urge you not to rush into taking any such decisions before we have a clear picture from government regarding how future funding will work.

"We have already seen a reduction in the number of maintained nursery schools across the country due to existing funding pressures, and it would be a travesty if we were to lose any more simply because local authorities are jumping the gun."

He added: "If the government are able to find the right solution, such decisions should be completely unnecessary and could do untold long-term damage.

"I would ask that all local authorities wait until they have the complete picture before proceeding with any such decisions."

Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of Early Education, added: “The long-awaited funding formula for maintained nursery schools should finally give local authorities the opportunity to embed these centres of excellence into their early years systems to support the most disadvantaged children, those with SEND and children in need, and to provide system leadership and quality improvement support in partnership with local settings and schools.

"Closing nursery schools now would be short-sighted and would mean losing out on vital support through the revised funding formula."

The DfE has been approached for comment.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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