Sunderland MP to present petition to Parliament calling on Government to commit to nursery funding

MP Bridget Phillipson visits Hetton Nursery to collect funding petition from head of nursery Ruth Williamson.
MP Bridget Phillipson visits Hetton Nursery to collect funding petition from head of nursery Ruth Williamson.

A Wearside MP is to present a petition to Parliament which call on the Government to make clearer its plans towards funding for nursery schools and avoid a “crisis”.

Bridget Phillipson, who represents Houghton and Sunderland South, paid a visit to Hetton-le-Hole Nursery and Childcare, in the town’s Victoria Street, to meet with teachers.

Nursery headteacher Ruth Williamson said that the lack of clarity from Government chiefs has left it difficult to plan for the future and any loss of such services would be “detrimental to all children”.

The Department for Education has said it is providing local authorities with “around £60million” a year until 2019/20 to protect maintained nursery schools funding.

Ms Phillipson, herself a mum of two children, will present the petition this evening.

Ms Williamson said: “The current Government has recognised the crucial role maintained nursery schools have in the education sector and have committed to maintaining funding levels until 2019/2020.

“However no guarantee has been given after 2020 leaving many schools like mine, and the other eight maintained nursery schools in Sunderland, unable to plan and budget for the future.

“Maintained nursery schools are almost exclusively graded good or outstanding by Ofsted and the majority are located in disadvantaged areas.

“No other part of the early years sector has the same track record of helping disadvantaged children to catch up with their peers.

“Nursery schools also have a unique pool of expertise in supporting children with Special Educational Needs.

“The loss of such a service would be detrimental to all children as the schools provide the best starting point for future learning.

“We are pleased that Bridget Phillipson understands our concerns and has agreed to present the petition in Parliament on behalf of our schools.”

Ms Phillipson said: “On Friday I met with concerned headteachers from a number of local nursery schools to discuss the serious funding crisis they’re currently experiencing.

“This is a result of the government’s failure to secure funding beyond 2020, which means nurseries are facing extremely tough budget decisions - with some even at risk of closure.

“These nurseries are an asset to our community, and I pay tribute to the dedication of the staff, who do their very best to help give local children the best start in life.

“On Tuesday I’ll be presenting a petition on their behalf in Parliament, calling on the Government to extend nursery funding beyond 2020, and I will continue to fight for the support they need.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “We want every child to have the best start in life which is why we are spending more money than ever before to support early years education and childcare – around £6billion a year by 2020.

“Maintained nursery schools make a valuable contribution to improving the lives of some of our most disadvantaged children, which is why we are providing local authorities with around £60million a year up until 2019-2020 to protect maintained nursery schools funding.”