West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has accused the government of trying to fund high quality early years education on the cheap, which will see pre-school children being failed.
MP Rosie was speaking in a Parliamentary debate on Maintained Nursery School Funding on Wednesday 1 February 2017 when she made the comments.
Rosie also raised the issue again today (Monday 6 February) in the Commons directly with the Secretary of State for Education during Education Questions.
Maintained nursery schools are very much the jewel in the crown of early years education provision. Sixty per cent of these nursery schools are rated as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED, which includes West Lancashire’s Moorgate Nursery School in Ormskirk.
In recent months government has been consulting on funding for the early years sector. Initial indications are that they want to fund all providers -; maintained nursery schools, private nurseries, childminders, pre-school nurseries etc.- at the same funding rate.
This would be a fair funding regime if all providers had to operate by the same rules and standards. There are important differences which are not considered in the proposed funding reforms.
Maintained nursery schools provide early years education rather than just childcare. They are also schools and therefore must employ qualified teachers. Yet they are not funded in the same way as schools but instead through the early years funding formula.
Local authorities have the power to fund nursery schools on a different basis than other providers but they are under no obligation to do so following government changes in the funding of local authorities.
The government has offered maintained nursery schools transitional funding as the new funding formula is introduced but many schools fear this is not sufficient for the long-term to keep many nursery schools open.
Speaking after the debate, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“On walking into Downing Street the Prime Minister spoke about her ambitions for improving social mobility for all.
“If she wants to be true to her word and honour her commitment then she needs to end her obsession with grammar schools and invest properly in early years education.
“To date government has demonstrated a scandalous lack of understanding on the importance of early years intervention in improving a child’s life chances. In their consultation they even confuse childcare and early years education as if they are the same thing.
“Government needs to decide if they want good or if they want cheap early years provision.
“They can’t have good, cheap early years provision.
“Do we want the best possible start in life for our children or not?
“Currently this government is hurtling towards choosing not.”