Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP's Worries over Future for Nurseries as Cutbacks Loom

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MP's Worries over Future for Nurseries as Cutbacks Loom

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN WALKER Political Editor

NORTH East nursery schools could be forced to close because of a funding crisis, headteachers have warned.

And it means the Government's plan to offer free childcare may be "doomed before it even gets started".

The National Association of Headteachers said hundreds of nursery schools, particularly those in poorer areas, would be forced to close if the government doesn't adjust its proposals.

It named Durham as one of four areas set to be hardest hit.

Nurseries in other parts of the North East are also under threat and the head of one Gateshead nursery warned it was at risk.

The threat comes from the Government's promise to provide 30 hours of free childcare to working parents of children aged three and four. While the Government is providing funding for two years, there is no guarantee after that - which means nursery schools would have to meet the cost.

But many will be unable to cope, particularly as they already face cuts in funding from local councils.

The National Association of Headteachers says Durham nursery schools face massive cuts with funding per hour cut by more than a third.

And Denise Henry, head teacher at Bensham Grove Community Nursery School in Gateshead, warned her school's financial sustainability would be at risk. She said: "Bensham Grove Community Nursery School is the only maintained nursery school in Gateshead. A large proportion of our children are from disadvantaged backgrounds and we work closely with local families.

"We are very concerned about the new early years funding plans, and the impact they will have upon children and their parents or carers. Whilst the government has recognised the high quality provided by nursery schools and allocated supplementary funding to support them, this is only for two years.

"Supplementary funding is essential long term for nursery schools to meet the legal requirements of a school. The supplementary funding amount illustrated in the consultations also would result in a significant decrease in our budget.

"These changes therefore put the sustainability of our school at risk. …

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