MPs uniting across party lines to ask government to stop nursery school closures

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A cross-party group of 71 MPs has called on the government to take ‘urgent action’ in protecting funding for state-run nursery schools, warning that many could face closure.

The MPs – including 12 Conservatives – have signed a letter calling for the funding of almost 400 maintained nursery schools across England to be safeguarded beyond 2020.

Nursery schools provide specialist support to the most vulnerable children – including those with special educational needs and disabilities, the letter to education and treasury ministers says.

“We call on you to continue providing the resources they need for that vital role, and to recognise the urgency of doing so now,” the MPs say.

Among the signatories is MP Robert Halfon, Tory chair of the education select committee, as well as ministerial aide Craig Tracey, and former ministers Tim Loughton and Dan Poulter.

Since 2016, the government has committed to supplementary funding of around £59m a year for nursery schools – but this is only guaranteed until 2019.  

MPs are calling for a commitment to funding past 2020, warning that “warm words will not pay the bills”. They say a loss of this funding would represent a 31 per cent cut to the nurseries budget.

Former shadow educations secretary Lucy Powell, who co-ordinated the letter as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on nursery schools, said: “If the government isn’t careful, many nursery schools will close by stealth waiting for help that many never come.

“They cannot wait for the spending review. We need action now to safeguard their future in the short term, whilst a long term fix is found so these schools can thrive and grow.” 

Tracy Brabin MP, shadow early years minister, said: “Maintained nurseries do extraordinary work closing the gap between the most disadvantaged children and their peers, often in areas of deprivation and with particular expertise in supporting children with special educational needs or disabilities.  

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