Darren writes to Government on future of funding for State Nursery Schools

On the 24th of October 2018, Darren wrote to express his concern at the lack of funding for maintained (i.e. state) nursery schools. Maintained nursery schools have to meet similar regulatory standards to schools for other age groups, but their funding does not reflect this. Their private sector counterparts do not have to meet this standard.

Budget 2018: funding of state nursery schools

Maintained nursery schools provide great benefit to the children of Bristol North West, especially for children from families on lower incomes.


Bristol is a city full of promise but it’s also an incredibly unequal place. In my constituency I represent some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country as well as some of the most affluent. This often means that your chances in life – be it due to education, training or health – can be significantly different depending on which postcode you’re born in, such postcodes often being only hundreds of yards apart.


Good Early Years education for everyone is key to levelling this playing field in Bristol. Outcomes are improving at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage: 69% of children achieved a good level of development in 2018, up 1.3% this year. The gap between those in the 30% most disadvantaged areas and their peers has narrowed by 5% in four years, to 13%. State nursery schools are a key part of this: 63% of them are graded outstanding by Ofsted.


Despite this, nursery schools in Bristol and across the country are on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2016-17, 18% of maintained nursery schools were in deficit. They form part of a childcare provider system missing £370 million in funding, yet with a promised 33% in additional cuts from 2020.


Furthermore, the current funding system places state nursery schools under additional unnecessary pressure. Despite state nursery schools having to meet higher regulatory standards as schools, instead of the less rigorous regulation required of private and voluntary sector equivalents, they are not given block funding or premises financing, which all other schools are.


Your colleague, Nadim Zahawi MP, has said that this will be reviewed. But I’m writing today to stress the urgency of this issue, with the hope that you might announce proper funding for nursery schools in your budget on Monday.


Treating nursery schools as other schools, with proper funding, will provide a sustainable future for nursery schools allowing them to continue to be able to transform the life chances of many of my constituents.

In late November a reply was received from the Government: