Nursery school staff from across England to protest outside Downing Street over funding

Unions have said that some nursery schools have been forced to cut staff and services due to lost income and additional Covid costs

Around 150 nursery school staff from across England are set to protest outside Downing Street in a call for an increase in funding.

The protest comes as 2,000 school leaders, staff and educators have signed a petition calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to “take urgent action to provide adequate funding” for maintained nursery schools.

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Campaigners have said that council-run nursery schools need more support to address the impact that the Covid pandemic has had on young children.

Unions have said that some nursery schools have been forced to cut both staff and services due to lost income and additional Covid costs, with there also being uncertainty over the funding they will receive next year.

School leaders’ union NAHT said around 150 representatives from maintained nursery schools will gather in Parliament Square on Tuesday afternoon (19 October), alongside parents and MPs.

They will then march to Downing Street, where a delegation will hand a petition to Number 11 asking for more resources.

‘We call on you to take urgent action’

The petition says: “Maintained nursery schools provide the highest quality education and care to children in some of the most disadvantaged parts of England.

“They support a high proportion of children with special educational needs who would otherwise have nowhere to go, and children on the early years pupil premium. They have a vital role to play supporting educational recovery and the levelling up agenda.

“We therefore call on you to take urgent action to provide adequate funding for maintained nursery schools and support to address the impact of the pandemic.”

Ahead of the spending review later this month, school staff are calling for enough resources “to put in place a long-term viable funding solution”.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Maintained nursery schools have been left in limbo for four years, under threat of closure.

“As we head towards the comprehensive spending review it is critical, now more than ever, that the Chancellor delivers once and for all for the sector.”

Unison assistant general secretary, Jon Richards, said: “These schools play a vital role in supporting young children with complex and special educational needs. Nurseries need a long-term funding settlement urgently to ensure they’ve enough staff. No child should be left behind because of budget cuts.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We’ve made an unprecedented investment in childcare over the past decade, spending more than £3.5 billion in each of the past three years on our free childcare offers and increasing the hourly rate paid to councils above inflation for the past two years. We are also making millions more available through our early years recovery work to level up children’s outcomes.

“Maintained nursery schools provide valuable services to some of our most disadvantaged children and we remain committed to their long-term funding. We are providing local authorities with around £60 million in supplementary funding for their maintained nursery schools in the year to March 2022 – any decisions on future funding will be made as part of this year’s Spending Review.”