Nursery school leaders to march on Westminster demanding long-term funding

Hundreds of nursery school leaders will descend on Westminster asking for long-term funding to secure their future.

On Monday nursery heads and governors will deliver a letter to Philip Hammond demanding that he safeguards the future of maintained nursery schools in the forthcoming Spending Review.

But the 251 signatories are asking the Chancellor to signal his intent in Wednesday’s Spring Statement.

The Parliamentary Lobby and march has been co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes, and school leaders’ union the National Association of Head Teachers.

Last month Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi announced £24 million of additional funding for nurseries and while this was welcomed, the nursery leaders argue there is no guarantee of adequate funding after the next academic year.

The letter says: “However, the long-term survival of maintained nursery schools still hangs by a thread.

“The fact remains that, even with the supplementary funding, most maintained nursery schools have had to make large cuts and make hard decisions to balance reduced budgets.

“Exceptional, highly trained, early-years staff have been lost to the system through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future.

“As head teachers and governors we are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools.

“We are making decisions that could be detrimental to the future of our schools because we have no clear decision from the Government about our funding.

“We need your support again. We need stability to continue the life-changing work we do.”

It concludes: “Our schools help families to grow, and we nurture and develop the children we support. There will be a terrible cost to our social fabric, and the wider education and care system, if our schools cease to exist.”

Mr Zahawi (pictured) said: “We know that maintained nursery schools play a valuable role in supporting some of the most disadvantaged children across the country, and that there was some uncertainty about funding for the next academic year.

“That is why we have provided an additional £24 million of funding to local authorities for their maintained nursery schools – to give reassurance in time for the allocation of places for September 2019.

“Decisions on what happens past the end of the 2020/21 academic year will be taken at the next Spending Review.”

On Monday nursery heads representing 251 nursery schools will lobby Parliament to secure future funding.

They will then congregate in Parliament Square at 4.30pm to march on Downing Street and deliver the letter to the chancellor.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) David Jones / PA Wire.