Many state-maintained nursery schools in Bristol have contacted me with real worries about their ability to continue teaching children in the face of budget uncertainty.
Yesterday I presented the government with petitions from St Werburghs Park Nursery School, Redcliffe Nursery School and Children’s Centre, St Philip’s Marsh Nursery School, Barton Hill Children’s Centre and Cashmore Early Years Centre. Taken together, hundreds of parents, teachers and carers in Bristol have signed these petitions.
The nurseries are worried because government has failed to give them any clarity on their budgets from April 2020. This uncertainty is making it impossible for them to plan for the next academic year. As a result, nursery school heads across the country are worried that they may be forced to cut classes or close permanently.
Nurseries have been told to wait for the Spending Review, at an unspecified date, to find out whether they will receive supplementary funding, which makes up a third of the money they receive.
This is part of the government’s chronic underfunding of education at every level. More than 20% of nursery schools are now in the red, a proportion which is almost SIX TIMES higher now than it was in 2009/10.
I also raised the growing funding gap for education in another debate this week. I was disappointed to hear the minister respond by parroting the misleading claim of ‘record levels of funding’, a distortion of statistics which I have also confronted the Prime Minister about in the past.
I will continue to campaign for the excellent nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in Bristol West. They do such important work, yet their funding is being continuously slashed back to unsustainable levels.
Here is the text of the nursery schools petition:
“The petition of [the undersigned],
“Declares that we are concerned about the future of maintained nursery schools in England after March 2020 as no guarantee has been given by the Government that adequate funding will continue when supplementary funding ends.
“The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons to urge the Government to take action to ensure nursery schools are financially sustainable for the future.”