Local authority leaders have warned that Government plans to cut funding are placing maintained nurseries and support for children with special needs at risk.
The Government has provided £55m each year in supplementary funding for maintained nurseries since a new funding formula was introduced in 2017.
This extra cash was in recognition of the costs faced by these nurseries, which care for more than 5,000 children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
However, this funding is set to end after 2019/20 — a move Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Govnerment Association’s (LGA) Children and Young People Board, warned would have a ‘detrimental impact on children with special educational needs.’
An LGA survey of 56 councils shows that nearly two thirds of respondents fear maintained nursery schools in their area will close if this funding is not protected.
More than half (52%) also said that the loss of funding would mean reduced support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.
‘As our survey shows, councils have grave concerns about the future of maintained nursery schools if the current funding does not continue beyond 2020,’ said Cllr Bramble.
‘This could have a detrimental impact on children with special educational needs, for whom maintained nurseries provide a lifeline of vital support.
‘For example, unlike other nurseries, maintained nurseries have to have a qualified teacher designated as a SEND co-ordinator.
‘This provision is now under threat unless government commits to an extra year of funding in 2020/21 as part of wider work to find a long-term sustainable funding solution in the Spending Review.
‘This is on top of the overarching funding pressures councils are facing in providing support for children with SEND, which we would like to see the Chancellor address in next week’s Autumn Budget.’