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Continue to support maintained nurseries

Last updated: 01:17pm 11 June 2019

And we will continue to support maintained nurseries…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.72

Our verdict

“Maintained” nurseries are funded by government and run by a local authority. They have been called the “jewel in the crown” of the early years education sector because not only are they concentrated in disadvantaged areas, but they also provide high quality education. Of those inspected between September and December 2017, 64% were rated as Outstanding; the percentage rises to 91% if those rated Good are included. (Ofsted, 2017).

However, the number of maintained nurseries has been steadily declining over the years. There were around 600 in 1990; only 397 are left as of 2018. A lack of funding is most frequently cited as the reason for maintained nursery schools closing.

The recent National Funding Formula (NFF) involved cuts to maintained nursery school funding. The government has supplemented local authorities with £60 million a year until 2019-20 to steady funding levels for maintained nursery schools, but 64% of maintained nursery schools estimate that they will be in the red before that funding period finishes.

The government’s £60 million supplementary funding is evidence of “continued support”, and there has been no explicit proposal to end support for maintained nurseries. Despite this, we don’t feel this is sufficient to consider this policy as ‘done’ if we also consider that there is no planned support beyond 2020 (still within the government’s term of office), the poor financial health that many maintained nurseries are already reporting, and the pressure from an All Party Parliamentary Group to provide more support.

For now this is ‘in progress’, and we will continue monitoring changes to funding for maintained nurseries as they are announced. Watch this space!

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