There are 389 nursery schools in England serving 40,000 children. As a result of chronic underfunding many have been forced to close in recent years, and the threat of closure exists for those which remain.

The Government, admitting that nursery school funding is inadequate, have previously committed stopgap funding through to 2021 only. This is no kind of future. The forthcoming Budget must secure maintained nursery schools for the long term.

Supporters of the petition and Save Our Nursery Schools campaign include the National Education Union, Early Education, the National Association of Head Teachers, and the APPG for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes, as well as members who work in maintained nursery schools.

People will gather at No. 10 Downing St, SW1A 2AA, on 2 March from 16.00. The hand-in itself will be at 16.30 at Downing Street. From 17.00 they will march to Parliament Square.

Commenting on the petition, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The Government’s attitude to nursery schools, characterised by indifference and piecemeal measures, is having a detrimental effect on children at a critical stage in their development. We cannot afford for this to continue.

Maintained nursery schools not only educate our youngest children but also provide the kind of support for parents and carers which is no longer available from local authorities. It is vital Government listens as a matter of urgency to the thousands of people who have signed our petition for additional funding.”

Editor’s note:

The text of the petition is as follows:

Nursery schools give 40,000 children the best start to school. The majority of these schools are located in the poorest parts of the country and for many children this is their only opportunity for early education. After years of chronic underfunding, the very survival of nursery schools is under threat. Only 389 nursery schools remain open across England today. Unless the Government changes course, even more nursery schools may be forced to close their doors.

In October 2019, the Government accepted that nursery school funding is insufficient and allocated stopgap funding to plug the holes. While the supplementary funding is welcome, this money runs out in 2021. This means severe cuts to the education and services that nursery schools provide. In many cases, these will put nursery schools at risk of closure.

The Government must make a funding commitment in the Spring Budget on 11 March that secures the long-term future of maintained nursery schools. Prime Minister Boris Johnson must guarantee proper funding until the end of Parliament and ensure no more nursery schools are forced to close because of insufficient budgets.