Bridget Phillipson Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South
In February, I presented petitions to Parliament on behalf of local nursery schools and nearly four hundred members of our community, urging the government to listen to people’s concerns over the future of our nursery schools, and guarantee funding beyond 2020.
Previously, the Conservatives had failed to guarantee any funding past 2020, leaving nursery schools up and down the country grappling with uncertainty, tough budget decisions, and the risk of closure.
In response to the petitions, Nadhim Zahawi MP – Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families – recently announced that a £24 million boost would be made available for maintained nursery schools, which will enable them to allocate places for September 2019, and help them see through to the end of the 2019-20 school year. While these initial steps are welcome, it remains unclear as to how the necessary funding will be provided after 2020.
With the Chancellor’s Spring Statement due on March 13th, I met with concerned head teachers Alisa Higgins from Hetton Lyons Nursery and Sarah Dixon-Jones from Houghton Community Nursery School, who were taking part in the Parliamentary lobby and march on Downing Street. The event was organised by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), and brought together hundreds of teachers from across the country, each seeking to make their voice heard on securing long-term funding for nursery schools.
The Chancellor failed to recognise the huge challenges faced by nursery schools in his Spring Statement, meaning a decision on funding could now be delayed until the government’s Spending Review, which takes place later in 2019.
Our nursery schools positively transform the lives of so many children, and the government needs to go further and provide the real assurances that nursery schools deserve for their future. I await the government’s Spending Review, which I hope provides nursery schools with the stability they need to grow and thrive beyond 2020.