A report from the Local Government Association, out today, found that nearly two thirds of councils responding – 61 per cent – fear maintained nursery schools in their area will close if this funding is not protected.
More than half (52 per cent) also said that the loss of funding would mean reduced support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on government to commit to continue this funding for an extra year in 2020/21 to help councils keep maintained nurseries open before a long-term sustainable funding solution is found as part of the Spending Review.
The report also stated that there are currently 397 maintained nurseries in England with more than 40,980 children enrolled, of which 13.8 per cent have SEND. Only 6.3 per cent of 3 and 4-year-olds in the general population have SEND. IT warns that councils are already struggling to manage the rising demand in support from children with SEND in schools and this issue is an additional pressure. The LGA is calling on the Government to address the underfunding of SEND provision in the Autumn Budget, otherwise councils may not be able to meet their statutory duties and children with high needs or disabilities could miss out on a mainstream education.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“As our survey shows, councils have grave concerns about the future of maintained nursery schools if the current funding does not continue beyond 2020.
“This could have a detrimental impact on children with special educational needs, for whom maintained nurseries provide a lifeline of vital support.
“For example, unlike other nurseries, maintained nurseries have to have a qualified teacher designated as a SEND co-ordinator.
“This provision is now under threat unless government commits to an extra year of funding in 2020/21 as part of wider work to find a long-term sustainable funding solution in the Spending Review.
“This is on top of the overarching funding pressures councils are facing in providing support for children with SEND, which we would like to see the Chancellor address in next week’s Autumn Budget.”
Beatrice Merrick, Chief Executive of Early Education said:
"This report endorses what Early Education, London Councils, the NAHT and others have also recently been saying, a message that is clearly understood by the many MPs who signed a recent joint letter to DfE and Treasury ministers. We need the Chancellor to take action now to ensure that some of the most vulnerable children in our society do not find themselves without a high quality nursery place in September. An extension of the supplementary funding is a bare minimum of what is needed. A viable long term solution must be found sooner rather than later."
Early Education (The British Association for Early Childhood Education) is the leading independent national charity for early years practitioners and parents, campaigning for the right of all children to education of the highest quality. Founded in 1923, it has members in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and provides a national voice on matters that relate to effective early childhood education and care of young children from birth to eight. The organisation supports the professional development of practitioners through publications, training, conferences, seminars and access to a national and regional branch network. For more information on the work of Early Education visit www.early-education.org.uk