There are only approximately 385 MNS remaining in England serving 40,000 children, many located in the most deprived areas of the country.
MNS give our youngest children the best start in life, including those with special educational needs and disabilities – and ensure access to the highest quality provision for families in the poorest parts of the country.
The DfE’s own figures show that the percentage of MNS in deficit has risen from 3.5% in 2009-10 to 20.8% in 2019-20 and the total deficit rose from £6.7m to £8.8m over that last year, indicating a rapid escalation of difficulties for the worst affected schools.
That, of course, was before the pandemic hit. A joint survey carried out by Early Education NEU, the NAHT and UNISON, has found that:
- More than half of all maintained nursery schools in England had an in-year deficit in 2021-22 and 28% of had a cumulative deficit.
- Only 4 in ten (41%) had been able to set a balanced budget for 2022-23. 44% could not and 15% didn’t yet know if they were able to.
Maintained nursery schools, like other early years providers, struggle to cover their costs from government funding, and in many cases have to generate income from other sources to be viable. The situation was worsened by the pandemic, which increased costs and reduced income.
MNS need adequate funding and a long-term funding solution so they can continue the essential work they do every day.