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Nursery school funding confirmed for 2020-21

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Thursday, 31 October, 2019

We are delighted to confirm that government has today announced the supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools will continue for the whole of 2020-21 financial year, alongside announcements of inflationary increases for all 2-year-old funded places and most 3- and 4-year-olds.

The press release from DfE says:

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also confirmed continuation of supplementary funding for Maintained Nursery Schools for 2020-21, providing reassurance for these settings which tend to care for higher numbers of disadvantaged children, often most at risk of falling behind....

In recognition of the need for certainty about the 2020-21 financial year in maintained nursery schools, we have today announced the continuation of the additional funding which will be provided to local authorities to enable them to fund maintained nursery schools at higher rates.

Details have not yet been released of the actual amounts per local authority for supplementary funding, but a technical note has been released which states:

Since the introduction of the EYNFF, local authorities have received supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools (MNS) on top of their EYNFF allocation. This is to protect their MNS funding at their 2016-17 level for the universal 15 hours.

Supplementary funding for MNS will be allocated to local authorities in 2020-21 at their 2019-20 supplementary funding rate.

The supplementary funding rate is the difference between the ‘provider equivalent rate’ and the 2016-17 MNS baseline. Please see the EYNFF: technical note for 2019 to 2020 on the calculation for the 2019-20 ‘provider equivalent’ funding rate.

Crucially, the ministerial statement from Nick Gibb says in relation to future funding:

I can also confirm that the government remains committed to funding for MNS in the longer term; and that any reform to the way they are funded in future will be accompanied with funding protections.

While funding will still be tight, these announcements take nursery schools a few steps back from the cliff edge, and are a hugely welcome recognition of their importance to the sector as a whole.  

Early Education Chief Executive, Beatrice Merrick, said:

Early Education welcomes confirmation of supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools for the full 2020-21 year, and government's signals of a long term commitment to this small but vital part of the early years sector.  We are delighted that ministers understand they key role nursery schools play in the sector.  We also welcome the inflationary increases for the hourly funding rates, although we know that more is needed to take quality in the sector to a level which makes a difference to children's outcomes. 

Lucy Powell MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes said:

I am really pleased that the government has listened to the cross-Party campaign of parents, head teachers, governors, staff, unions and MPs and extended supplementary funding for the next academic year so that nursery schools can have some certainty. This reprieve is welcome news, but with a fifth of maintained nursery schools in deficit it’s time for government to come forward with concrete proposals to ensure that nursery schools have sustainable future funding for the long terms which recognises the centres of early years excellence and engines of social justice that they are. We still need a long term solution but this announcement is a real help.


Notes to editors: 

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