Head speaks out over future funding fears for Emneth Nursery School
The head of a West Norfolk nursery has warned that its long-term futuremay be in doubt because of uncertainties over its funding.
Extra money has been allocated to facilities like the Emneth Nursery School, which will enable it to continue operating until 2020.
But officials fear they would have no choice but to shut the nursery, and the village’s associated children’s centre if that funding is lost.
Headteacher Holly Bowman said: “It would mean immediate closure of everything we have.”
Mrs Bowman raised her concerns about the issue during a visit by the village’s MP, justice secretary Elizabeth Truss.
Mrs Bowman said: “She was really helpful to us. She had gone back to the local authority and spoken to them about some things, and she will take things back to Justine Greening (education secretary).”
Unlike many private nurseries, the Emneth nursery is a maintained nursery school, which is directly funded by the local education authority and employs teachers as well as nursery nursing staff.
Mrs Bowman estimates that her nursery, which is one of only three nursery schools of its kind in Norfolk, employs around twice as many staff as equivalent private facilities, increasing its costs.
She is also concerned about the potential impact of the introduction of 30 hours of free childcare this autumn, which she fears could see the nursery lose out on further vital income.
The issues surrounding maintained nurseries were also examined in a Westminster Hall debate last month, amid wider controversy over the government’s plans to introduce what it claims is a new, fairer funding formula for education.
Critics fear potential future losses of funding will hit children in more deprived areas the hardest.
But ministers insist reform is needed to address inequalities in the current system.