Minister announces additional £24 million for nursery schools


Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi this morning (28 February) announced he would give nursery schools in England an additional £24 million "supplementary funding" for the summer term 2020.

He recognised that "nursery schools needed the "certainty of funding" for the full school year before offering places for 2019/20.

NDNA's Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE said that the Government must also acknowledge that the vast majority of places were delivered by the PVI sector which also needs support with funding.

“Although this money is only being made available to nursery schools, the Minister has acknowledged that it is difficult to offer funded places for children on the current hourly rates. The Government has said for the past few years there is no more money to boost funding rates, so it is interesting he has found this money for a small proportion of providers," she said.

“Private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries deliver the vast majority of funded places in England, but are being completely overlooked. This adds insult to injury as their funding rates have been frozen while staffing costs have been increasing substantially year on year. Even though nursery schools pay towards a head teacher’s salary, private nurseries have more staff and higher overheads including crippling business rates which have been scrapped in Wales and Scotland.

“Our current research shows that PVI nurseries’ wage bills will be rising by 5 – 6% with significant numbers seeing a 9 – 10% increase when National Living and Minimum Wages increase again in April.

“Coram Families and Childcare data released today shows that costs to parents have shot up again by an average of 3%, so childcare providers are absorbing the remainder of this shortfall themselves.

“The Government must invest in childcare for its funded places policy to work, but CANNOT ignore PVI nurseries which deliver the largest proportion of childcare, offering flexibility and high quality care and education. 

“Instead of sending the Tax-Free Childcare £600m underspend back to the Treasury, this money should instead be used for its original purpose of supporting families. This way the Government can offer a meaningful funding rate to ALL childcare providers so they can remain sustainable.

“The Minister must address the overall funding shortfalls as a matter of urgency before the Spending Review.”  

* There are fewer than 400 nursery schools in England (Ofsted Annual Report 2018)
* There are 24,200 nurseries and pre-schools (Ofsted Annual Report 2018)
* PVI nurseries deliver 87% of funded places for two year olds and 65% of funded places for 3 year olds (DfE Provision for children under 5 years of age in England, June 2018)

Lucy Powell MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes said: “This is welcome news from the Minister and I congratulate him on securing this down-payment to ensure the future of maintained nursery schools. This funding will ensure that nurseries have places to offer children for the next academic year, giving certainty to nursery heads and confidence to parents.

“Nursery schools are the jewel in the social mobility crown, closing the gap between disadvantaged children and their better off peers pre-school. This welcome respite about their future sustainability is a good thing. We must now see a firm commitment in the Spending Review, to ensure that nursery schools have the security and stability they need to grow and thrive in future years.”
Read the announcement here.