Young children in nursery school

Save maintained nursery schools

Maintained nursery schools (MNS) are under threat of closure due to chronic underfunding by the Government.

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.

Email your MP

Below is a template letter that you can send to your local MP highlighting the funding and resource issues facing your workplace. As well as inviting your local MP to visit where you work, we encourage you to use this template letter to raise awareness and support for our campaign to achieve better funding for Maintain Nursery Schools and Early Years.

WhatsApp groups

What we did

Along with the School Cuts coalition, colleagues in Early Education, Unison and NAHT, we have held a number of successful online and in person rallies to bring the issue into the wider public domain; we have submitted two online petitions to No.10 Downing St. both with over 30,000 signatures. The NEU is an active member of the All-party parliamentary group (APPG) for MNS and we have corresponded on several occasions with the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education demanding:

  • Supplementary funding for 2021-22 (and especially summer term 2022) increased in line with inflation back to 2016-17 real terms values.  The government have responded with providing funding of £23 million for Summer 2021 and confirmed funding until March 2022.
  • Additional resources and support to deal with Covid-19 costs.
  • A review of the early years funding formula with the view of implementing a long-term funding solution for MNS as soon as possible.
  • Undertook a joint survey of members with Early Education, NAHT and Unison to analyse the impact of underfunding and the pandemic. The results were shared with the DfE and will form part of our submission for the Comprehensive Spending Review 2021.

MNS remain the most successful schools’ group for Ofsted ratings and play a huge role in improving social mobility. During the coronavirus pandemic, MNS have proved once again their value to our society, while many private settings were forced to close, MNS have absorbed the additional pressure by becoming Early Year Hubs and remained open for vulnerable children and those of critical workers.

All of this is under threat because of insufficient Government funding and support. MNS have had little or no access to additional funds provided to schools to combat the impact of coronavirus and no help to cover income lost as a result of remaining open during the pandemic.

Cuts and closures

Report of a survey on the impact of the pandemic and government delays on maintained nursery schools’ finances, April 2021.

What we have achieved together

  • Supplementary Funding has been confirmed for the duration of the spending review period.  This means supplementary funding for MNS will continue 2024-25 and will increase annually during that time.
  • It includes an additional £20m on top of the £180m previously announced to increase hourly rates, and
  • An additional £10m to increase supplementary funding for the least well-funded maintained nursery schools.

#FundOurChildrensFuture #SaveOurNurseries

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