DfE promises £23m funding for maintained nursery schools
By Rachel Lawler
The Department for Education has announced an additional £23million in funding for maintained nursery schools for the 2021 summer term.
Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said that this new funding would “enable local authorities to provide them with stability while the Department confirms a long-term solution” ahead of the next Spending Review.
The minister said that, in addition to this, the DfE would be “block buying childcare places for the rest of this year” by promising funding at pre-coronavirus levels, regardless of the number of children attending each setting.
Early years catch up
The announcement came alongside the launch of an “early years catch up programme” aimed at schools.
The package includes £9 million of funding for training and resources to support one-to-one and small group support for five-year-olds whose language skills have been affected by the pandemic.
This funding is part of the previously announced National Tutoring Programme and £1 billion catch-up package.
Ford commented: “Nurseries and other early years settings have played a huge part in keeping our youngest children safe and supported throughout the pandemic, but too many children have missed out on education at a crucial point in their development.
Ahead of every pupil returning to the classroom full-time in September, we’re increasing the support available to get them back on track and ready to learn.
We cannot afford for our youngest children to lose out, which is why this package of support is focused on improving early language skills for the Reception children who need it most, and especially those whose long-term outcomes who have been affected by time out of education.”
PVI support needed
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "It is hugely frustrating - and frankly, insulting - to see yet another announcement of additional support for maintained nursery schools while the government continues to turn a blind eye to the huge challenges facing private and voluntary providers across the country.
"When the early years national funding formula was introduced, the government introduced universal base rates of funding on the basis that 'the costs of providing childcare are broadly comparable for a private nursery, a charitable pre-school or a school nursery class'. How, then, can it now argue that maintained settings need more financial support than the rest of the sector?
"At a time when many of the tens of thousands of PVI providers currently operating are struggling to stay afloat in the face of continued underfunding and the impact of Covid-19, such unbalanced treatment of the sector is simply unacceptable. The government must commit to ensuring that all early years providers, whether maintained or PVI, receive the funding that they need to remain viable in the long term."
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Early years left out of Covid catch-up plans