Oct 19, 2021, Evening Standard: MPs and nursery staff petition Downing Street over early years funding
The campaigners say council-run nursery schools need more support to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young children. Several MPs have joined nursery staff at Downing Street to demand an increase in funding for nurseries which support many vulnerable children. The cross-party politicians delivered a petition to Number 10, which had been signed by 2,000 school leaders, staff and educators and calls on the Chancellor to “take urgent action to provide adequate funding” for maintained nursery schools. The campaigners say council-run nursery schools, many of which are in the most disadvantaged regions of England, need more support to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young children. Protesters marched from Parliament Square to Whitehall, waving banners reading “our children need us” and “save our nursery schools”, in the event organised by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT)…. “The Government has promised a new financial settlement to get them on a firm footing for the future, but it just hasn’t happened,” she said. “I am always prepared to stand up for my constituency and sometimes sadly that means criticising the Government…. She added that if the Chancellor does not “step up and give them a fair funding settlement” it is “inevitable” that “many more” nurseries will be forced to close. Labour’s Yvette Cooper said the Government must commit to long-term funding to give nurseries stability…. Ms Meakin, 31, said: “We have a lot of Send (special educational needs and disabilities) children and they cannot have access to the really important services that we need…. “A lot of nurseries are at risk of closure. We are seeing more and more children come through our doors with high levels of Send, especially over Covid, they haven’t had that early intervention.”… Almost half (46%) of maintained nursery leaders said that by the end of March 2021, they were already in deficit for the year, according to a survey by Early Education, NAHT, NEU and Unison. The average deficit reported was £76,000 [$105K], and only 23% of respondents said they could continue to operate within their current funding levels, according to NAHT…. A Department for Education spokesman said: “We’ve made an unprecedented investment in childcare over the past decade, spending more than £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our free childcare offers and increasing the hourly rate paid to councils above inflation for the past two years….