Children’s Minister pledges to make the case for more nursery funding during march

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi joined campaigners making the case for more funding to secure of the future of nursery schools.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) estimated 600 people marched in Westminster asking for long-term funding to secure the future of schools.

They congregated at Parliament Square on Monday afternoon and marched to Downing Street waving banners, attracting cross-party support.

The march ended outside number 11 Downing Street (NAHT/PA)

They then heard from speakers in a Parliamentary committee room including Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington Jack Dromey.

The demonstration ended with the protesters handing in a letter to Philip Hammond demanding him to safeguard the future of maintained nursery schools in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Ninety per cent of England’s 380 or so maintained nurseries were represented, and at least a dozen or more MPs joined in the march, the NAHT said.

Mr Zahawi, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner were also seen during the event, according to the union.

Earlier, Mr Zahawi said: “We know that maintained nursery schools play a valuable role in supporting some of the most disadvantaged children across the country and that there was some uncertainty about funding for the next academic year.

“That is why we have provided an additional £24 million of funding to local authorities for their maintained nursery schools – to give reassurance in time for the allocation of places for September 2019.

“Decisions on what happens past the end of the 2020/21 academic year will be taken at the next Spending Review.”

Labour MP Jack Dromey was heard speaking at the event (NAHT/PA)

The Parliamentary Lobby and march was co=ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Nursery Schools, Nursery and Reception Classes, and school leaders’ union the NAHT.

A total of 251 heads signed a letter to be delivered to Chancellor Philip Hammond, which read: “However, the long-term survival of maintained nursery schools still hangs by a thread.

“The fact remains that, even with the supplementary funding, most maintained nursery schools have had to make large cuts and make hard decisions to balance reduced budgets.

A massive thank you to all the campaigners who took part in the #SaveOurNurseries event in Westminster today. Thank you to the MPs who came along and pledged their support, too.

— NAHT (@NAHTnews) March 11, 2019

“Exceptional, highly trained, early-years staff have been lost to the system through restructures or because of the constant worry of an uncertain future.

“As head teachers and governors we are trying to plan for a future that, without the sustainable funding, will probably mean the closure of our schools.

“We are making decisions that could be detrimental to the future of our schools because we have no clear decision from the Government about our funding.

“We need your support again. We need stability to continue the life-changing work we do.”

It concluded: “Our schools help families to grow, and we nurture and develop the children we support. There will be a terrible cost to our social fabric, and the wider education and care system, if our schools cease to exist.”