Commenting on the Sutton Trust’s latest Coronavirus impact brief COVID-19 and Social Mobility Impact Brief #4: Early Years, which shows that a third of nurseries in the most disadvantaged areas may be forced to close permanently, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"The Sutton Trust briefing on Early Years is further confirmation of what the NEU has been warning for quite some time – maintained nursery schools (MNS) and the Early Years sector are in financial crisis and unless the Government acts now, many settings will close in the coming months. MNS provide specialist education provision that help children from deprived areas and those with special needs attain better outcomes in school and later life. This week, the NEU along with the NAHT and Early Education have written to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education to raise our concerns and demand immediate emergency funding for MNS and a longer term funding solution for the Early Years sector.
"If MNS are forced to close, this will have a devastating impact on local communities, some of the most deprived in the country, and severely harm the educational attainment and life opportunities of the children these settings serve. The NEU is alarmed that the recently announced additional £1 billion for schools does not include any funding for MNS or the wider Early Years sector. We urge the Government to rethink this and also provide additional funding for Early Years and MNS in particular.
"The Government must quickly recognise the vital role MNS play and act now to keep them open."