Our nursery schools ‘the lowest funded in country’
AN Accrington headteacher appealed to a committee for support after it heard our nursery schools receive the lowest level of government funding anywhere in the country.
All local authority-run nurseries in Lancashire - as well as private or voluntary operators - get £4.30 for every hour they have a child in their care, almost half the rate in some other parts of England.
Andrew Good, Lancashire County Council’s head of school finance, told the education scrutiny committee that the discrepancy could not be explained by cost variations across the country.
“We don’t know what factors they use in central government to allocate nursery funds,” Mr Good said.
The meeting heard that private providers in the county felt that the level should actually be set at £6.10. The money is also used to cover the cost of the free childcare entitlements for three to fouryear-olds.
Members were told that 24 of the county’s maintained nurseries were closely collaborating in a bid to make the services they provide sustainable. Eight have been brought “back from the brink” from financial difficulties.
Sacha Walker-Byrne, headteacher of Accrington’s Fairfield Nursery, told the meeting there would be a “hidden ripple effect” on the wider family support work which council-run nurseries provide should any of them be forced to close. And she appealed to members to provide a “statement of intent that you’re proud of us and that we are important to you”.
The committee resolved to put a motion before full council outlining the authority’s support for the maintained nursery sector and any concerns over funding.
The Department for Education said local councils are responsible for setting rates in consultation with the nursery sector. It added: “This government has made its commitment to high quality early years provision very clear. By 2020, we will be spending around £6 bil on childcare support - a record amount - which includes around £3.5 bil which we plan to spend this year on our free early education entitlements.
“As a result of our Early Years National Funding Formula, the total national average hourly funding rate to local authorities for three- and four-year-olds increased from £4.56 to nearly £5 and all local authorities saw seven per cent increases in their funding rates for two-year-olds.”
An Accrington headteacher has appealed for more support for our nurseries