Yesterday (Tuesday 19 October), Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington, led a 250 strong march consisting of maintained nursery school (MNS) headteachers, governors and parents heading to Downing Street to demand the Treasury finally and fully provides long term funding the sector in the upcoming Spending Review.
The supplementary funding for MNSs which the Government has provided since 2017-18 is not fairly distributed and has not been increased with inflation, meaning schools have experienced a real-terms cut in funding during that time. Additionally, unlike other schools, MNSs were not eligible for COVID-related costs funding, and so have had to bear the brunt of these costs themselves, nor were they eligible for government schemes which benefited private providers, including business rates relief.
Many within the sector, therefore, find themselves in a perilous financial situation. A recent survey conducted by Early Education, NAHT, NEU and UNISON revealed a third (34%) are cutting staffing and services to balance their books, almost half (46%) are running a deficit budget for the financial year and only one in four (23%) said they could continue to operate with current funding levels.
Mr Dromey led the MNSs in his capacity as Secretary of the APPG for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes. Together, they hand-delivered a letter signed by 1,400 school leaders, staff and educators from almost all MNSs in the country which was addressed to the Chancellor and it demanded the Treasury:
- include a long-term funding settlement for MNSs in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review;
- provide additional resources to MNSs to make up for COVID-related costs and lost income and;
- immediately confirm supplementary funding for the 2022 summer term.
Mr Dromey argues that MNSs have a vital role to play in supporting the levelling up agenda and that hundreds will be forced to close without sufficient long-term funding, with adverse consequences, in particular, for SEN/High Needs children.
Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Erdington, said:
“It is often acknowledged by ministers that our state-maintained nursery schools are the jewel in the crown of early years provision, but if the Government is serious about levelling up opportunities across the country, the Chancellor must ensure the long-promised, long-term funding settlement for MNSs is included in the spending review.
“If this is not forthcoming, this will mean losing some of England’s highest quality early years provision which has a unique role in supporting some of our most vulnerable children, including children with complex and special educational needs”.