Cross­party drive to res­cue nurs­eries

The Observer - - News - Siva Thangara­jah

A cross-party group of MPs has launched a cam­paign to fight cuts in fund­ing for state-main­tained nurs­ery schools, warn­ing that they will worsen in­equal­ity in ed­u­ca­tion.

More than 70 MPs have signed a let­ter to ed­u­ca­tion and Trea­sury min­is­ters urg­ing them to se­cure the fu­ture of 400 main­tained nurs­eries by con­tin­u­ing the cur­rent fi­nan­cial sup­port be­yond 2020. Among the sig­na­to­ries is Robert Hal­fon, the Tory chair of the ed­u­ca­tion se­lect com­mit­tee.

Hal­fon told the Ob­server: “Main­tained nurs­eries are some of the best ex­am­ples of the state. Most have been rated out­stand­ing by Of­sted. Why would you con­sider cut­ting fund­ing for these schools?”

Main­tained nurs­eries are schools for un­der-fives that of­ten spe­cialise in car­ing for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties and those from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds. Ac­cord­ing to the 2016-17 Of­sted re­port, 63% were rated out­stand­ing and 100% achieved at least a good grade, the sec­ond-high­est mark for schools, while 64% are lo­cated in the coun­try’s most de­prived ar­eas.

One spe­cific pur­poses is to close the learn­ing gap be­tween the mo­stand least-priv­i­leged chil­dren. In 2016 the gov­ern­ment promised ex­tra fund­ing of £55m to £60m a year, but this guar­an­tee only lasts un­til 2019.

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