Funding change needed to keep Whitnash Nursery School open

GV of Whitnash Nursery School. NNL-180717-165005009
GV of Whitnash Nursery School. NNL-180717-165005009

The headteacher of two maintained nursery schools says they will shut unless the way they are funded changes.

Rachel Gillett, the headteacher at Whitnash Nursery School and Kenilworth Nursery School said the latter will be threatened with closure in September 2019 if nothing is done.

Although Whitnash would not close at the same time, it would still have to close later.

Rachel wants current and former parents of children who attended both nurseries to respond to a consultation on why they are important.

She hopes positive answers will put pressure on the Government to change the formula and give the nurseries the funding they need.

The Department for Education has said detailed decisions on funding would be made in the Government’s next Spending Review, which will not take place until next year.

Rachel said: “We need some information from the government by this autumn - otherwise we’re looking at mass redundancies.

“If the Treasury doesn’t make a decision soon, we’ll be at a cliff edge.

“What we’re trying to do is to ask the Government for an in principle promise to fund nursery schools.”

Whitnash and Kenilworth are among almost 400 maintained nursery schools in the UK.

They are funded by local authorities - in this case Warwickshire County Council - but a lot of that funding still comes from the Government.

Maintained nurseries have to employ teachers with better qualifications than private nurseries, and are always run by a headteacher.

But the Department for Education (DfE) includes maintained nursery schools in its ‘Early Years’ funding formula, putting it in the same category with childminders who work from their own home.

The DfE brought in this new funding formula in 2016. It started to affect nurseries in the financial year starting in April 2017.

Although some extra money has been given to maintained nurseries by the DfE, this will stop in the 2020 financial year.

And because the schools have to budget for the academic year, Kenilworth along with many others may be in trouble next year.

Rachel argued the funding should be more like a primary school, as she says they are ran in a similar way.

She said: “Early Years funding covers so many different types of providers.

“But lots of research has shown how important maintained nursery schools are.

“It would be such a loss to lose them.”

The consultation asks five questions plus a question that all maintained nursery schools are asking - ‘how has your nursery school affected your child and family?’

Whitnash and Kenilworth nursery school head teacher Rachel Gillett hopes to get at least 300 consultation responses to ‘create a compelling piece of evidence’ on the value of nursery school education, which will then be sent onto Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Children’s Minister.

Anyone wishing to take part in the consultation can find it on the www.whitnashnurseryschool.org.uk home page.