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MP highlights the outstanding provision offered by Sandy Lane nursery during Parliamentary debate

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03 Feb 2017
Helen Jones H&S Warrington North MP Helen Jones has led a parliamentary debate on funding for maintained nursery schools which she described as "the jewel in the crown of early years education."

She highlighted the fears expressed by nursery schools that one in 10 think, as a result of the government’s funding formula, they will have to close by July and 67% believe they will have to close by the end of the transitional funding. This is despite the outstanding record maintained nursery schools have – 60% rated outstanding by OSTED and 39% as good. This compares to only 17% of other nurseries and pre school providers and 13% of child minders being rated as outstanding.

The MP said:

"That record of excellence is equalled nowhere else in the early years sector. One would think that any government would want to preserve and even expand a system that achieves such a degree of excellence, but unfortunately the reverse is true."

Maintained nursey schools provide early years education, employing qualified teachers, but are funded not as schools but through early years funding which has been consistently cut by government.
The MP focused on the outstanding provision provided by the Sandy Lane Nursery and Forest School in Orford when highlighting the invaluable services provided by maintained nursery schools, saying:

"Maintained nursery schools provide outreach to families, support to other providers, and initial teacher training places. Nowhere else in the sector does all that. Yet they achieve enormous success with children from the most deprived families in the country. Sandy Lane Nursery and Forest School in my constituency serves, mostly, two wards, Orford and Poplars and Hulme, although it takes children from a wider area too. Those wards are among the most deprived 30% in the country. In Orford 33.7% of children are growing up in workless families. In Poplars and Hulme the figure is 32.9%. The fact that the nursery is rated outstanding in those circumstances is a tribute to the skill and expertise of the staff, but that is by no means unusual."

She called on the Prime Minister to stop "fixating" on grammar schools and to start investing in maintained nursery schools like Sandy Lane who OFSTED praised for ensuring that the vast majority of children going on to reception classes are at the right level despite the fact that most children arrive at the nursery school with skills far below the level expected of their age group.

The expertise the maintained nursery schools offer in their provision for disabled children is also second to none.  If these schools close the MP asked the minister to tell us: "where those children will go. We already know that 42% of parents of children with disabilities find difficulty in accessing the early years provision that they are entitled to."

In conclusion, the MP said:

"There can be good early years provision or there can be cheap early years provision – there cannot be good, cheap early years provision. It requires high ratios of staff to children and properly trained staff. What sort of government would want to put such a high-achieving sector, with such a wealth of expertise and such a record in promoting social mobility, in jeopardy? This government, apparently.

"The government needs to look at this urgently. They need to ensure that they get a grip, to stop closures from coming this summer and to ensure the future of our maintained nurseries."

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