Monday, 30 May 2016

Government failure on LEA nursery schools

Sacha Walker-Byrne Deputy Headteacher and MP Graham Jones at Fairfield maintained Nursery School, Accrington

The issue of Nursery Schools is a serious one. I spoke about it the House of Commons.

I have recently paid several visits to the local authority’s Outstanding Fairfield maintained Nursery School in Accrington.

The Government have forgotten about local council nurseries which provide specialist high quality learning environment catering for children who may need extra help. They also provide other co-located joined up services to parents and children. The reforms and forced acadamisation programme which excludes these small LEA nurseries will result in them being neglected by cash strapped councils with no education department once all primary and secondary schools have been made independent. Hyndburn’s nurseries provide a first class nursery experience and the government should be supporting excellent heads such as Liz Klavens.

More recently I attended the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) meeting on Nursery Education to support their campaign for high quality nursery education, distinguishing between nursery education and childcare for working parents. England’s four hundred and eight maintained nursery schools are currently under threat due to the government’s push for academisation of nursery schools and their intention to introduce a flat rate of early years funding as part of measures to provide thirty hours free childcare to children whose parents work for over sixteen hours and earn up to £100,000 each.

It is important to recognise the importance of early education and co-location of family support services as a means of lifting vulnerable children out of poverty. According to Ofsted, the best educational settings in the country are maintained nursery schools. Remarkably, they perform just as well in poor areas as they do in less affluent areas. The APPG are making the case that the Government needs maintained nursery schools to support the rest of the early years sector at the very time when they are asking all early years provision to expand.