The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs, MPs Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick, the Tower Hamlets Schools Forum, Tower Hamlets nursery headteachers and the National Education Union have joined together to write to the Secretary of State for Education about the risk of maintained nursery schools closing.
The letter (attached) to Damian Hinds MP highlights that the government recently committed to provide an additional period of funding for maintained nursery schools but warns that this money ends in 2020 and there have been no assurances that it will continue beyond that date. This leaves maintained nursery schools in a very uncertain position.
The letter urges the government to commit to fair and long-term funding for our nursery schools and insists that the ‘stop-gap measures cannot continue’.
Nursery schools are different from other nurseries and playgroups and need to meet higher standards than other providers. They must employ a headteacher, qualified teachers, and a special educational needs co-ordinator with level 3 qualifications. All of this means that nursery schools face higher costs. Maintained nursery schools receive funding from central government (via their local authority) for the 15 and 30 hours of free childcare available to 3 and 4 year olds (and some 2 year olds).
There are six nursery schools in Tower Hamlets, all of which are rated ‘outstanding’.
As part of the council’s recent budget, Tower Hamlets has committed £500,000 for an additional 10 hours of early education per week for 2 and 3 year olds from low income backgrounds and this figure has been matched by the local Schools Forum. The Council has also invested in the expansion of one of our nursery schools to provide more places including specialist provision for deaf children.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “The government has only announced stop-gap measures for nursery school funding rather than bringing forward clear and long-term plans to enable the schools to plan for the future. I know nursery headteachers are seriously concerned about what might happen to their nursery schools and at the moment they are fighting for survival.
“We’re investing in our nursery schools here in Tower Hamlets and we urgently need the government to do the same.”
Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People, said: “Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK and our nursery schools provide outstanding early education for some of the youngest residents in our borough. As a council we’re very proud of everything our nursery schools have achieved and we’re investing in their future, but the reality is that they need long-term sustainable funding from the government to secure their future.”