Nursery School under threat

It appears that State funded Nursery Schools in the East Riding, including Hornsea’s, are fearing for their lives as they have been forced to issue the following joint statement: Local authority-maintained Nursery Schools across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire fight for their future The governing bodies of seven local authority-maintained nursery schools across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire have joined forces to highlight the financial difficulties that they face as a result of successive funding cuts and to launch a campaign to secure the future of their sector. Working collaboratively, the nursery schools, which are from three different local authority areas (the East Riding of Yorkshire, Hull and North East Lincolnshire), have produced a comprehensive information pack for key decision-makers at a local, regional and national level to demonstrate the invaluable role that they play. The document implores politicians to speak up for the maintained nursery school sector and makes two urgent recommendations: That a long-term funding commitment is made to secure the future of maintained nursery school provision beyond April 2020, which has been described as ‘cliff edge’ because funding beyond that date is uncertain. That the Department for Education develops national funding formulae for maintained nursery schools that recognises that they are schools, secures their long-term viability and provides greater consistency in the levels of funding that they received across the country. Using a series of real-life case studies, feedback from parents and both financial and performance data, the report highlights the ‘hidden’ or ‘unmeasured’ benefits that local authority-maintained nursery schools provide for children, their families and society as a whole, as well as laying bare the dire financial difficulties that the sector currently faces. It also offers an insight into the damning consequences should the sector cease to exist, revealing how its loss would: leave a gaping void in children’s social care provision, piling even greater pressure onto other public sector services; mean that the needs of children with complex, life-threatening or life-limiting conditions could not easily be met in early years settings, creating even greater demand for specialist services; leave thousands of families without the support of cooking and nutritional guidance and food banks, putting children at greater risk of obesity or hunger and storing up health problems for the future; leave some children with Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) without a suitable early years place; make it impossible for some families with extended entitlement placements to access their 30 hours of early years provision; and lead to the loss of the wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise within the sector, and the training and development opportunities that this creates. Governors from Beverley Manor Nursery, Bridlington Nursery, Hornsea Nursery and Hedon Nursery in the East Riding of Yorkshire; Great Coates Village Nursery School and Scartho Nursery School in North East Lincolnshire; and McMillan Nursery School in Hull have collaborated on the document. Mrs Helen Hussey, who is Headteacher at Great Coates Village Nursery School, said: “When we’ve each spoken to our local councillors and members of parliament individually about the issues faced by local authority-maintained nursery schools, we’ve had mixed responses. Whilst people often respond positively about nursery schools, we feel that there’s a lack of understanding about the huge impact that they have on the well-being of children, their families and society as a whole. “We came to the conclusion that our voices are more likely to be heard if we work collectively, so we’re launching a campaign to raise awareness of the invaluable work done by our local authority-maintained nursery schools and the immeasurable losses that our communities will face if the future of our sector can’t be secured.” Councillor John Whittle, Chair of Governors at Hornsea Nursery School, added: “Local authority maintained nursery schools are the jewel in the crown of our education system, yet they face an increasingly uncertain future. So much of the work they do is ‘hidden’ or goes unmeasured but, if we were to lose them forever, the pressure on other public sector services would increase dramatically and the life chances of so many children would be drastically reduced.” A copy of the document produced collaboratively by the seven nursery schools is available upon request. The following spokespeople are available for interview: Cllr John Whittle, Chair of Governors at Hornsea Nursery School, on 01964 532301. Miss Kirsty Woods, a Governor at Hornsea Nursery School, on 07852 165280.

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