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Introduce a presumption that all new primary schools should include a nursery

Last updated: 03:55pm 13 January 2019

We will introduce a presumption that all new primary schools should include a nursery.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.72

Our verdict

The Conservative Party’s manifesto states that “Britain should be the best country in the world for children”. The government has acknowledged the importance of high-quality childcare in striving to attain that goal, and this policy is one of a range of pledges to extend and improve childcare provision.

The wording of this particular policy is significant. This is not a promise to introduce a legal “requirement” that all new primary schools should include a nursery. Instead, it promises a “presumption”. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines “presumption”, in legal terms, as, “An attitude adopted…in the absence of acceptable reasons to the contrary”. So rather than fresh legislation, we might expect to see the “presumption” included in official documents regarding the creation of new primary schools.

The free schools programme began in 2010 and was given legal force by the Education Act 2011. That act introduced the “free school presumption” which essentially requires that all new schools are established as academies (free schools).

Within the government guidance on the free school presumption, from May 2018, is a clause which reads:

“There is a presumption that local authorities planning a presumption project to establish a primary school should include nursery provision…”

We’re marking this policy as ‘done’, because the official advice now includes the promised “presumption” regarding nurseries.

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